Poet's Progress. "Save Me From A Stupid Life." Latina Letters.

"Poet's Progress"- LORNA DEE CERVANTES
for Sandra Cisneros

I haven't been
much of anywhere,
books my only voyage,
crossed no bodies
of water, seen anything
other than trees change,
birds take shape -- like the rare
Bee Hummingbird that once hovered
over the promise of salsa
in my garden: a fur feathered
vision from Cuba in Boulder,
a wetback, stowaway, refugee,
farther from home than me.
Now, snow spatters its foreign
starch across the lawn gone
crisp with freeze. I know
nothing tropical survives
long in this season. I pull
the last leeks from the frozen
earth, smell their slender
tubercular lives, stand
in the sleet whiteout
of December: roots
draw in, threads of relatives
expand while solitude, the core,
that slick-headed fist of self, is
cool as my dog's nose and pungent
with resistance. Now when
the red-bellied woodpecker
calls his response to a California
owl, now, when the wound
transformer in the womb
slackens, and I wait
for potential: all
the lives I have
yet to name,
all my life
I have willed into being
alive and brittle with the icy
past. And it's enough now,
listening, counting the unknown
arachnids and hormigas
who share my love of less
sweeping. For this is what
I wanted, come to, left
alone with anything
but the girlhood horrors,
the touching, the hungry
leaden meltdown of the hours.
Or the future -- a round negation,
black suction of the heart's
conception. Save me
from a stupid life! I prayed.
Leave me anything but
a stupid life.
And that's poetry.
[Fooling with Words]

This year, we will discuss and celebrate three decades of Latina Literature in the U.S. The "crossing over" of U.S. Latino/a literature into the awareness of the general American reader began in the 1980s with the publication of Sandra Cisneros' "The House on Mango Street" by Arte Público.

On its 10-year anniversary, Latina Letters applauds Sandra Cisneros for helping to open the gates of the mainstream for many Latina writers to follow. Also participating in Latina Letters is a voice of the '80s poet Lorna Dee Cervantes, who will read from her new work. For the decade of the '90s we celebrate Pat Mora, Chicana poet extraordinaire, who opened the mainstream doors to Latina children's literature. Representing the first decade of the 21st century are Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Cuban-American Ana Menéndez, two writers whose works explore both political and social issues in the form of fiction.

Latina Letters will be a forum for issues of literature, art, identity, ethnicity and gender, continuing as it has from the beginning to focus awareness on these important issues.
Gwendolyn Díaz, Ph.D. Director, Latina Letters=See Latina Lista for more on a Latina perspective.