Profe and poet Natalie Scenters-Zapico, with violinist Ernesto Villalobos (of the Villalobos Brothers), served up some powerful music and poignant poemas at a recent perfomance in CDMX. [Video by Di/Verso Encuentro de Poemas en la Ciudad de México, a program from the city government.]
Here are the palabras:
Because They Lack Country
He goes to desert bars and searches every stranger’s pocket for the plastic heart, the stork that made him. He kisses
bathroom stall handles and eats the ice in the urinal. Not México, not Canada, not United States, or the coat
made in Honduras, but the cloth of open sky
is what he wants. He is hungry as a bare flag-pole
on a windy day. The streets moan when border patrol finds him. He says: don’t arrest me because I lack country.
Plastic wrist ties, serial number, toothbrush, shampoo in a plastic bag: he is made of what is missing.
She hitchhikes down the freeway in a dust storm and covers
her ears as cars honk past—qué mujer, they holler.
The place where land and road meet, her body collapses.
Skin lifts to the sun in sheets, such thirst is only found
in those that cannot ask for water. She carries herself
to an abandoned outhouse; by night, border patrol finds her
with infra-red scanners. They point their guns and the smell of urine fills the room. Filthy, one agent spits to the earth.
They take her body in a paddy wagon and drive for days. It doesn’t matter the country—this desert is all the same.
In bed she asks him: Will you marry me? He thought
she asked: Can I give you country?
His teeth are stars, and the stars are teeth, and there is nothing to mark the difference.
He draws lines across her body in pen—openings for respiration. He draws lines in squiggles, dots,
and mapped curves. He draws cursive that says: our we, our we. The whole room dyed
red, he whispers: night vision goggles will always stain us―