Buenas Tardes, Señora, Pariente Lejana
Queda claro por qué tan pocas veces podemos ver
jóvenes chicanos sin ropas limpiar y planchada.
(It becomes clear why we seldom see young chicanos
without clean, pressed clothes)
She steps hard-jawed into the laundromat
back out and in again, quickly, all business
with baskets of clothes for the washers, dryers
to be sorted judiciously and fed, along with
scrimpy quarters, into the machines she
can't afford for home.
Years of making do, and gravity of labor
weigh down her cheeks, her breasts, while
age has thickened her middle and still, as
through some miracle of intent, she holds
that line, that appearance for the world
with fresh clothing, a hint of makeup.
Laundering clothes for her family, she is
a nation of brown-skins, speaking language
of their long-ago oppressors, but blending
native ways into foreign, forced cathedrals
that would separate humans from the world,
thus we preserve bits of heritage.
She stands here, north of imaginary lines
sketched on our earth by the invaders, and
sorts clothing that, laundered and pressed,
will show the world a resilience, a will
to survive, a history impossible to erase,
a strength residing in the blood.
© 2010 Thomas Hubbard
This poem appears in
Yellow Medicine Review, Spring, 2010