El Mundo (The World)

My yellow house sits on a quiet street,

the front yard fringed by a yellow picket fence.

Two cars anoint the driveway with patches of oil—

fattened gray cat watches a rubied

hummingbird feed on purple stalks

of Mexican sage. A red-headed man is bent

to the earth planting Hopi rattle gourds

with his miniature: a six-year-old boy

with flamed hair digs a hole he can hide in,

uses the dead branches of the butterfly

bush as camouflage in a game of war

played with the blonde-haired girl who lives on the corner.

On the back porch a basket of wet laundry waits.


Beyond my fence across train tracks due east

a thirteen-year-old boy dresses himself meticulously:

black chinos, pressed white t-shirt, gun

under untucked plaid shirt. A red bandana

streams from his back pocket

as he runs outside. A friend waits in a '63 Impala—

He does not kiss his mother goodbye.

She left in darkness hours before

and watched the sun rise over brown hills

and fields where she picks strawberries,

hearts bleeding on stained hands.


Beyond my fence a family eats breakfast

at an outdoor café. A girl in a red dress

gazes at the trembling opal of the Mediteranean.

Her father sits on a wrought

iron chair. His eye assesses every stranger—

shopping bags are suspect, overcoats

send his heart into an overture of beats,

breath catches when a young man

reaches inside his trenchcoat

and pulls out a novel by Nabokov.


Beyond my fence three children sit

on the sand floor of their kitchen,

eat with scraps of bread—

sounds of laughter do not echo

off chipped paint, their eyes cups

no one will drink from.

They do not cry. Rage

fills the bellies in the land where

fathers are ghosts and mothers

snap like sheets on the clothesline

I use on Saturdays after coffee and cream

in the land of no reckoning.

Maria Garcia Tabor

( first appeared in mondaypoetryreport)