Angie Trudell Vasquez is an award winning poet, writer, activist and publisher. Her words, poetry, essays and op-eds, have appeared in print and on stage, nationally and internationally. She is currently getting her MFA in poetry at IAIA, the Institute of American Indian Arts, in Santa Fe, New Mexico and fulfilling her childhood dream. She will be a panelist in April 2016 at Split This Rock!
Wait chica listen
lips ears to earth floor
in the beginning
corn in the end
dance in rows
shed pollen in wind
years of plenty
stories fill bowls
children grow long and
tomorrow’s seeds rest indoors.
Stained glass walls, hard wood floors.
Parking lot chickens watch from behind wire, shuffle back and forth as if we were the zoo animals and not them penned in a cage.
Old church now fitness center, facials, acupuncture, Zumba dancers, psychedelic tea with mushrooms carry worshippers away.
Blond heads swivel at the dark ones as they pass.
People passing peer in see women dancing to music no one can hear leaping, spinning, shaking hips, grinding, worshipping.
In the hall a person ruffles through coat pockets looking for a phone, wings become daggers, eyes glow – no one knows no one takes its pleasure from being naughty, peeking.
People used to worship here and pastor ghosts cavort watch comings and goings. What happened to the steeple, the organ, the people? Now this old church carved back to empty.
Shadows join the dancers, there should be twenty shadows but there is close to fifty all the parishioners have joined in the dance and the dancers do not see their numbers have grown.
Ghosts do not grow short of breath or sweat they go under upraised legs, crawl under knees, sniff the necks of the women so alive, lick raised armpits, remember how it was to be in bone, skin, skeleton, to sweat, to bleed, to spin bare feet on floor and peel off the calluses from the day before. This is living. Old witches now kin.
The music stops the dancers collapse in their skin, revelers hold hands, fragments of old cling to real life.
Hard wood floors shine wet, stained glass walls shake, shimmer, light bathes dancers chests heaving.
My niece of two flesh forged in the belly of her mother
island child, corn child, doughy flesh, white unlike me
child of Japanese merchant sailor, Taino natives hiding in trees
of pancake hands and tortilla minds
of plantains smushed in balls fried pork inside
curls the size of grapefruits eyes of jade
she began walking one day tottering between piano legs sofa couches
traveling on her knees she shoves her German Shepherd away
as if he was a fly and not 150 pounds of flesh fur desire
her fresh skin springs back not like the hard churros sold next door
laughs at her brother plays with his cast aside cars garage steals his colors
looks less like my sister more like her father’s tribe
carries the imprint of a people whose land was long conquered
the nose, the nostrils, the green eyes who do not know how to lie
she will learn how Puerto Rico keeps getting stolen
how Mexico has fallen risen about blood in all soil
living in the barrio she shuffles between high rises skyscrapers
busses and doormen, valets, palettas, the Michigan Mile, mangos,
chiles, specialty grocery stores who cater takeout for condo dwellers
to live on this land with one heart divided is to breathe every day.
Woodland Pattern is nonprofit book center in the heart of Riverwest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are dedicated to the discovery, cultivation and presentation of contemporary literature and the arts.