“I sing to you across fields of maize
Your grandmother cultivated before your birth”
I Sing To You Across Fields Of Maize – Virginia Scott
The ground is the color of maize.
My grandmother shucks husks into a basket.
Her wrinkles are edges of cliffs
after centuries of rivers wore them down
into furrows. Her voice is dry desert winds,
barely a whisper of a lone coyote
loping after the moon. She tries to tell me
the ancestry of corn beaten flat into things
useful to sustain life. I think she means
the tortillas which translate into little cakes;
but she corrects me the way only patience can.
She means how the immigrants were beaten,
how the scars on her back are the scars of the land,
how our blood was water, how
people can get lost crossing the desert
turned around with parched lips, and die
lingering in the baking sun like the tortillas.
I am beginning to understand my roots are gnarled,
searching for water among mirages.
We are the barrel cactus with a red rose
people are afraid to touch. That when you grind corn
it is the grinding of migrants. That the dough
is called “masa” which sounds like “mesa”
with its steep cliffs like misunderstandings.
That the weathering of her leathery brown skin
has been adapting to the sun to pass those genes
like ancestry and wisdom. If I understand
how her yellow teeth is the yellow corn, then
I will be cultivated like the fields, planted with purpose,
determined to survive, anything. Then,
and only then, will I have learned something useful.
Otherwise, I am nothing more than an empty basket
waiting for the green husks to fill me.
Note: Tomatoes are considered both fruit and a vegetable.
Indecisive plant of the tossed dice,
plant of the split personalities,
your pulpy heart is inconsolable
when sadness is a garden of weeds
you do not discern between polarities,
instead choosing a middle ground
a rarity of passive-resistance
you wear a red bolero shirt of sunrises
carrying seeds of tear ducts, daring
as a bullfighter,
enticing senoritas with a restless spirit
toying with their passion
unbutton white blouses
your devil-may-care posture
loving and leaving them
illusions and vaporous rumors
a lover with no intention of returning
your pocketwatch face is broken
miles to the last mountain
between you and those you leave behind
your ruby eyes, like crimson lights
on the shanty district where women
wear half-slit skirt smiles
exposing more than you need to know
tomato, you are the first to be crushed
in any relationship,
of forgetfulness once bitten
takes all knowledge; part vegetable
in the Alzheimer’s Ward
with wheelchair wheels of tomatoes