A graduate of UW-Madison in bilingual- bicultural Elementary Education, Maria Elena has taught in all current models of second language learning. Her passion for writing was developed at a six week program hosted by the Bay Area ( National) Writing Project. This organization believes that teachers who teach writing should be practicing writers themselves. Since then Maria has taken many opportunities to learn and improve the art of writing. She is an original member of Woodland Pattern”s Wednesday Writers group for which she is thankful. Maria Elena Scott is a proud, takes no bull, Mexican-American poet compiling, organizing, sifting and winnowing both memoir and poetry pieces into a coherent whole.
My Mexican Adonis
Smile lines illuminate your kind eyes
Mother Earth furrowed; seeds planted
Campesino among campesinos
Calloused hands tilled, pruned and harvested fruit
Up down ladders without water to drink
Paid at the whim of the growers, a few cents per load
On to the next crop: you tilled, weeded and picked vegetables
Without a break in dangerous temperatures
Toxic pesticides rained on you. Inanimate human to the sprayer
–!Huelga-Strike! Boycott grapes! Union was your cry!
–!Con la union se vive major! Life will be better when we unionize!
You carried us, all of us, on ample shoulders; brown Adonis with your love.
We learned to stand together for justice and hold our heads up high.
–Si, se puede chants was our chorus pilgrimage
From Delano all the way to Sacramento.
You starved for us, all of us, brown Adonis as a prayer.
They say you died in your sleep.
I say you died from pesticides and the hard labor of multiple harvests.
They say you went to bed late, fell asleep and did not wake up.
I say your body shut down from the stress of non-violent resistance.
I honor you today
Many decades later and behold:
Your Smile lines
Mother Earth furrowed
When Lupe Got Her Voice Back
Lupe had withstood multiple stab wounds
Her Jealous ex-boyfriend, the perpetrator
Injured both Lupe and their baby
Sutured cuts dot the right side of her pale face
And flicker at the light of the cameras
A gash to her neck is bandaged
From her right eat ear to the front of her left shoulder
Now home from the hospital, surrounded by the puffed cushions
Of a comfy, crushed velvet chair
Lupe recounted, “At first I thought he was punching me
But then I felt the trickling blood.”
The young mother warns those who are still silent:
“As soon as it happens,
Get out immediately! Don’t let them control you!”
She cautions those who are in denial: “With me it started just verbal.”
Lupe gingerly moves her arms in a circle
She utters her daughter’s first word
The one that her now dead six month old was learning to say to her:
The smothering cloud of “Don’t tell, don’t ever tell!”
Was before and long ago
And while the television interview continues
Lupe is swiftly smashing the cycle of violence
Lifting a sharp chisel with her left hand
And a heavy mallet with her right
She shatters one metal link at a time. Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping!
Sparks of light fly
Enduring Fear, Enduring Loss
In a Broken Immigration System
What kind of morning is it when
You kiss your loved one off to work
Amid the smell of café and maple syrup
Again brushing away the doubt of your return?
What kind of noon time is it when
With a novela drama blaring on Telemundo
Your heart sinks at the thought of your toddler’s life without you?
What kind of dinner-time is it when
With anxious eyes you watch the glint of the front door knob
Sit down at the borrowed oak table. Por favor. Please God!
Let it not be today. Homeland Security or Immigration and Customs Agents
Stage a raid.
Your cold plate sits empty, waiting
What kind of night-time is it when as you get ready for bed, you wonder
Why today, the mailbox did not hold that official looking envelope
Promised by the last immigration lawyer?
What kind of sunrise is it when
The cold of another January and
The heat of another August
Witness you tossing and turning unable to sleep?
What kind of Tuesday morning is it, when in a haze
You remember that the glint of the front door knob did not turn
The echo of your work boots did not make it home
The “You are home!” ritual did not occur to calm your nerves
Your cold dinner plate sits empty waiting
Wednesday dinner time, waiting
Thursday dinner time, waiting
Four nights waiting six nights waiting
Eight weeks, ten weeks, waiting twelve months
Months become years
Our son has stopped asking: “Where is he?
Why mama’ ?”