Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lorna Dee Cervantes: "For My Ancestors..."

Here is another poem along the same lines as Wendy Rose's. Lorna Dee Cervantes is Chumash/Xicana. This poem is meant to be performed; try reading it aloud. Try whispering it.


after Phil Goldvarg

The bones that hold the holy.
Bones, grafted from bailing
and tar. The feathers
of a sleeker bird
resting in the nest.
The wry sense of autumn
calling like a winning smile.

The rapid fire. The wind
laid rest. The certainty
of servitude. The last ash
for the piki. Petals of a lost
desire. A woman's breast
releasing a flower of milk
on her dress. Buckskin bark
carpets the forests. Manzanita
swirls its own polish, her old bone
gleam. Her steady burn. The burl.

Bones weighed in at market.
The single bones, the married
bones with bands on bones.
Bones of a bonzai rectitude,
a fortitude of factories
on the horizon. Bones to raise
a Nation. An axe. An awl.
Bones stripped of their acorns.
Bones nipped from the grave.
Baskets of mourning
foreign to the settlers.
Baskets of bones
with rattlers inside.
Baskets of bones
with the teeth in hide.
Bounties of bones
with the people inside.

For every sale
there is a bone.
For every bone
there is a home
and a prayer
calling out the human heart,
chants on a drum
of human hide
with the bill of sale
still inside. And a brand
name still entails
a tag on the toe, a museum
label, a designer death
for you who were buried
with the names inside.

I say this peace, purple dove
of passion for you
who were robbed as bones.
For you who were stripped
of your meat. For you who were
worked to death grinding corn
at the metate you toted
for their feed, the sweet
smoke of age barely at your tail
when they packed you up
for the reinforcement.

Oh, Savior of the Mission of Bones,
Oh, Designer Death for the Architect,
Pope of the Bones
and the sainted orders--
the sainted terrorists.
Bones that hold,
the Holy.


c Lorna Dee Cervantes

first published in Divide, CU Boulder 9/27/03

(written for Transform Columbus Day Benefit, Oct. 3, '03. Aztlan Theater, Denver)

Transform Columbus Day, Aztlan, 10/11/03


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