5 Poems | Lorraine Caputo

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ONE SHOE

One shoe on, one shoe off
you jump rope with your shawl.
Bare heel bloody,
unkempt braid bouncing,
streetlights dull upon your
dirt-streaked face.

Your young compañeras
call to you.
You sit with them
on the curb & watch
cars & taxis spuming by
in this chill night.

& later you come to the
trole station near your park.
People queue for the
packed-car, packed-car arriving,
those tired faces peering at us,
peering at three business-suit men
yelling at a humble man.

You dance
one shoe on, one shoe off
through our crowd, passing
out Tecno Master Mind handbills
inviting us to Choose modern technical careers!

You & your friends with
bright pleated skirts dimmed by smog,
cloths pinned across shoulders
to warm you in this mountain air,
Florescent knee socks, tatty shoes.
Your thin hair lightened
by malnutrition,
your breasts not even
yet forming—

Except for the oldest,
hers just peaking &
belly rounding, hips broadening
against her worn sweater.

 

GIVING BIRTH

—Los hijos parieron a nosotras.
(The children gave birth to us.)
Mercedes de Meroño,
Madres de la Plaza de Mayo

On this cooler summer day
just after three
People mill around
the Plaza de Mayo

The cabildo clock
begins the
half-hour toll
Already the Mothers
hold their blue banner:
Not One Step Back
The filtered sun brightens
their white head scarves

& on-lookers quietly
draw to them
Our steps slow
counter-clockwise ‘round
the obelisk

I close my eyes
the music of many tongues
washing around my thoughts

For how many years now,
Mothers, Grandmothers,
you search for your children
your children’s children
How many years you
keep their dreams, their example
alive in your being
your actions
On your thick-veined legs
that each week vigil
for what they, your children
taught you

Police in bullet-proof vests
stand in formation
beyond heavy black metal mesh

Each week
for these almost
twenty-eight years
Each week
until you pass
from this life

Four p.m. toll
that fence opens
Towards the Casa
Rosada we stroll
to a statue
Where the Mothers share
what they have learned
from their children
To fight against injustice
to create a new world
Where these Mothers
give birth to new
& when you pass, Mothers
we, your children
en la lucha
Shall continue
to march
counter-clockwise

 

BEWITCHED

—para doña Elva
… if you can hear these words …

I.
Barefoot a woman walks
south down the black highway
a blue shirt tied at her waist
hiding her bare hips

She crosses her arms
across her bare
large, sagging breasts
her eyes looking down

just walking, walking

Her sun-toasted skin
the color of the eastern hills
twisted from the earth’s depths,
sparsely covered with thorny brush

Above those heights circle frigate birds
flying inland from the deep-blue sea
on the other side of the highway,
ebbing, flowing upon sand

the color of her sun-toasted skin

II.
Quarter moon passes to new

& this afternoon
I see that woman
bewitched by her
husband’s lover

walking northward
up that black highway
bare-breasted, bare-bottomed
barefoot, sun-toasted

walking, just walking …

 

A THOUSAND MILES

—to Ibtisam Barakat

I dedicate this to you,
my Palestinian friend,
walking a thousand miles

for all the other refugees
who had to walk
from war, from poverty
from genocide, from repression

carrying what they could
in a shoe box
or a bundle

To you I dedicate
this part of my journey
traversing over two
thousand kilometers
up a narrow country

sea wavering to the west
& hidden mountains to the east,
through lands of
olive groves & vineyards,
through lands of deserts

I dedicate this poem to you,
my pen-meditations
of exile—yours & mine,

of that Aymara man there
who stowed his bundle in our hold
& that small boy
with a shoe box,

the little we can carry
in this life
towards freedom

————
Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 100 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa; nine chapbooks of poetry – including
Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014) and the upcoming Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2016); and fourteen anthologies. Caputo has done over 200 literary readings, from Alaska to the Patagonia. For the past decade, she has been traveling through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her travels at: www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer.

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