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)