La Casa de las Mujeres
For Maria Margarita Macias


Thick adobe, inside cool and shaded, three sisters
Inseparable, never married, never been with a man
Always cooking for each other married only to God
And their mother?

Guadalupe, Jesus, and Lela couldn't have their own
So they raised their sister's child, and her cousin too.
Maria Margarita Macias, Ramona and Esequiel's
First-born, after the baby that died, the one in that photo.

Tiny old baby cradled in flowers, stiff as a board
Lips slightly parted, her tiny bonnet
Coveting the rocky white face of death, adrift
Inside Chihuahuan desert, a sea of crosses twist.


Crucifixes, Altars, green lace-trimmed curtains, blue walls.
Over the couch hangs the Fires of Hell
A whorl of red-yellow fire
Clings to a flaming pool of naked bodies
Their brown hair cascades, arms aloft
Towards the heavens they will never know.

Sanctified table, gloried corn and beans,
The sound of pomegranates, tortillas, café con leche.
Pan Dulce, gorditas, frijoles, and champurrado.
Saint Theresa emerges from a shadow canvas her
Pious gaze offers us a silver tray that holds only a
Pair of eyes to watch us as we eat.


Another hot summer. Driving, landscape changes mountains
And hills become green, swampy, large-leafed trees, then
Shrubs, scrub, sandy chaparral.
Hours upon hours of roadway motors. Time passes itself.
I wake, and we're there... I'd almost forgotten their faces.


Our return rains a celebration of water, sugar cane,
Catfish, el machete, and blessed irrigation canals.
A dish of sand and animals shuffle dusty backyard desert.
La casita on the edge, a water vortex, our tires rumble
Edge worn boards beckoning a fall from grace.


Esequiel's largest pig sacrificed for the fiesta of return.
I hold my breath. Everything is fast and slow. My blood
My gun men poised. A desiccated sun, blinding heat
The pop of a gun, an echo swallows sound, innocence

Her massive pink body jumps, trembles, and collapses
Inside a forest of dust, congratulatory whispers.
My blood smiles again and murmurs pride slowly.
Running, our shoes send up plumes of dust.

We touch the dead, leaning into its heat,
Its blood still alive and warm,
Searching for evidence... a tiny hole
So perfect and round.
A pink head sideways,

Its stub and dirty nose drips mucous,
Black-grey powder marks savaged itsskin,
Hooves too small to carry its girth,
Coiled tail, intimate folds of flesh,
Tongue hanging out dead.


Herbs to break a fever, women, tortillas de maize,
Gorditas y napolitos. My head rests in a cup
of hands, a breadth of missing teeth speak a
Language I don't understand.
La Casa Humana sheltered these women of God,
Gilding their possessions--- sacred and not.
Las Tias...We called them by one name.