Stenciled Memories

By Lorna Dee Cervantes b. 1954

for Gra'ma

There was always fabric in your lap
and a whistle in your heart. A sweet
sap to be sucked waited in the garden.
Nymphs of newts nestled under rock,
your role as She Who Brings the Waters
intact. Between the trilling of the crickets
educating into the night and the sad sack
of cans in the mornings something grew,
flourished in the dark — vines as sturdy
as telephone wire writhed in the breezes.
You patched together a blanket of us,
sewed together the mismatched and lopped
off edges. And anger grew a twin, ripped
through the bermuda grass, something stubborn
and determined: Me, in a leather patchwork skirt,
the bitter lemon song returning to its beginning
over and over on the Howdie Doody phonograph,
a handful of bandages, a faceful of ghosts
delivered from the mirrors. How did you stand it?
All of it. Us crunching through your set life,
kids scuffling through the mounds of leave.
Always making do. Your sunshine eyes,
those stenciled memories where
we still live.

Lorna Dee Cervantes, "Stenciled Memories" from Sueño. Copyright © 2013 by Lorna  Dee Cervantes.  Reprinted by permission of Wings Press.

Source: Sueño (Wings Press, 2013)

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Poet Lorna Dee Cervantes b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Lorna Dee Cervantes

Biography

One of the major voices in Chicana literature, poet Lorna Dee Cervantes’s writing evokes and explores cultural difference—between Mexican, Anglo, Native American, and African American lives—as well as the divides of gender and economics. Born in San Francisco in 1954 to Mexican and Native American ancestry, Cervantes was discouraged from speaking Spanish at home in an attempt to protect her from the racism prevalent at that . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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