We learned to make the sign
of the cross,
Dipping earth stained hands in Catholic
Waters. We’ve filled the desert
with our altars
We prayed our rosaries, played them,
Rubbed them, clutched them–
rattles in the wind
Swaying back and forth—our
Playground swings, we rode them
Now hang them on walls or rear view
Mirrors of fixed-up ’57 trucks.
el Padre Nuestro en espanol but we
finish the prayer in a North
De vez en cuando we gather
ourselves together to baptize
in the name of the Father, the Son,
and our ancestors who command us
from the grave.
We have made our way in the world,
worked hard, worked hard. Now, we
at the feet of my parent’s grandchildren
like pilgrims tossed palms
In the sounds of our coins against
the concrete, I hear novenas
yellowing into dust.
We try to speak of our lives
purely. Our memories will not
We wear our culture as penitents
wear ashes on their foreheads,
Permanente. We wake in strange-streeted
cities with the taste of the desert
in our mouths.
Because we are hungry, the taste
is sweet. We are damned to live
on a border. From here, we build
our altars to our gods.