Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Viejo ... (listening to Rose Royce)


As a kid, whenever I'd ask my grandpa where he was going ... he'd say "A viejo" ... cruise this poema by La Bloga's Gina MarySol Ruiz ... Cien años ... it's a classic tribute to her granfather and is in the current issue of peoticdiversity ...

“Cien años”
You would say
In that
Raspy, gruff
Yet curiously gentle
Voice
“Voy a vivir cien años”

“Naci en el 1900”
You’d tell me
As together we sat
In the patio filled with my
Grandmother’s plants
Playing
Canicas, marbles that
Lived in the bright
Green MJB
Coffee can

“Cien años”
Square, determined jaw
Resolute cara de nopal
Face of un indio
Beloved grandfather
Affectionately called
Papa

“Deje Mexico durante el revolucion”
Sadness and shadows
Flittering through your warm
Brown eyes
That must have seen
So much
Loss and pain
Brave, brown man
Strong and honest
A working man

“Cien años”
As we hoed the neat
Rows of
Corn, chiles, cilantro, tomate
Bright red strawberries
Freckled like me

“Conoci al Al Capone en Cheecago”
Proud, smiling lightly
As we picked the lemons, membrillo and laurel
Destined for
Grandma’s kitchen
To become intoxicating smells
Of a distant land.
Later
I learned of
The stockyards, the stench
Backbreaking work
Racism and hatred
He never once spoke of

“Cien años”
Rolling massive flour tortillas
In three quick thumps
Of the
Rolling pin
Sas! Sas! Sas!
And hands a perfectly round
White moon
To Grandma standing
At the comal

“Somos Aztecas, indios”
Crinkly eyes flashing
Big dimple showing
In your left cheek
Same as mine
Only deeper, much deeper
The “X” marks the spot
In a treasure map of a smile
As we watch
Los Voladores perform

“Cien años”As you sat at the table
With the ever present
Playing cards
Shuffling with all the
Finesse of a
Vegas dealer
And told me
Of the first time you worked
With your father
At age 3
And earned
Tres centavos
One you bought an olla with
Gave it and the remaining
Centavos
To your mother

“No cobramos por ayuda”
Every time someone tried to pay
For the sobadas
Given
By the healing hands
Of a sobador, a huesero
Those same hands
That carved a cherry stone
or a porous rock
into the face of a monkey

“Cien años”
Body racked with nausea
Losing your thick black hair
Fighting
That asbestos-caused evil
Cancer
From working in that place
That manufactured dishes
Gave you a turkey a year,
Franciscanware
The apple pattern
Desert Rose
And the “Big C”

“Dios te lo pague, hija”
Each time
I did something
For you
Or my Grandma
Out of love
For no other reason
But to lighten your load
Do something for those
That gave me so much

“Cien años”
As you kissed the
Forehead of your bride
Still in love
After decades of marriage
Dancing with her
To a bolero reminiscent of
Times past

“Tengo que trabajar”
After seven major surgeries
The month after
My grandmother’s death
As we tried to get
You to stop
Working
The hard muscle
Of your indio labor
Tucked under the wrinkled
Mask of frailty

“Cien años”
When the hospital
Sent you home to die
A thin man hiding his
Pain
Looking like
A woodcut
By Guadalupe Posada

“No tengo hambre”
As I parade your favorite foods
Chicharones en chile verde
Frijoles del olla
Burnt blackened tortillas
I never understood
Why you liked them that way
Almost 86
On that April Fools
Sunny day
I called to see how you were
And found you had gone
To Mictlan just a half hour before my call
"Fitting," I said
As I held my children and cried
Fitting for the practical joker
You were

Today
A great, great grandson
Came backwards into this world
Bearing your name – Salvador
In the Aztec veintena of
Tlaxochimaco
The Offering of the Flowers
In his name
Aidan Cesar Salvador
Ehecatlpochtli
I gift to you this
Flower, this poem
This bittersweet tear
May you live on
In our memories, our stories
Our hearts and dreams
Por much mas que
“Cien años”

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