A Point West of Mount San Bernardino

By Juan Delgado b. 1960 Juan Delgado

For Father Bob

I.

            By the road she hovers in heat waves,
            propped up on a cinderblock wall,
            revived by mixed house paints,
            fending for herself like wild mint.

She is behind your shoulder,
a blind spot, your city's poverty.
A figure waits under a freeway ramp,
gesturing as if she knows you.

                        The fences and lots have the same dogs,
                        peering through the chain-links, curious.

            While at the hospital, you see kids play another
            game of tag outside the emergency room doors
            and know how fingerprints squander their ridges
            and how digital minutes dry up under a glare.

II.

A stump is all that is left of a surveyor's point,
a ponderosa pine in the foothills that started
the city's perfect grid.
                                             The sidewalks of Baseline
need more than a grocery bag's empty belly,
plastic, a ripped-up flame standing and calling
out to an old preacher like yourself.
                                                           By the cameras
mounted on the street lights, you wonder
if they recorded the street sinking in the eyes
of the woman who died on a bus bench.

You pause in front of a freshly painted sign
that says "Wrong Way," and see a sign within
a sign, a resistance to the newest strip mall,
the black lettering unevenly spaced and painted,
a homespun warning to keep moving on.

Juan Delgado, "A Point West of Mount San Bernardino" from Vital Signs. Copyright © 2013 by Juan Delgado.  Reprinted by permission of Heyday Books.

Source: Vital Signs (Heyday Books, 2013)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Juan Delgado b. 1960

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Youth, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Mexican American poet Juan Delgado first started coming to the United States with his family when he was a child. He attended California State University, San Bernardino, where he studied accounting before discovering writing and majoring in English. He earned an MFA from the University of California, Irvine, where he was a Regents Fellow. Delgado’s collections of poetry are Green Web (1994), selected by poet Dara Weir for the . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Time & Brevity, Youth, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.