Of the tar-paper shack and dirt floor


Of the igloo cooler and bunson burner

Of the water barrel and outhouse

Maria of Jesus

Stood in darkness

But for sunlight shards

That found the wall cracks

And cast her


The dull white dress and torn ear lobe,

Her eyes liquid

And gratitude

She rained down on me

Offering the boy

Perched on her hip

I held him

While work weary

Her husband of the maquiladora

Spends the night

Assembling toys he cannot afford

Soundly slept before us

And, I held the boy as my own.


Maria of Jesus

Took my hand

And led me into the

Squalor and sunshine.

Was it she that whispered,

“All this could be yours”?

The unpaved roads and dust

the rumbling car dragging its muffler

the coat hanger having failed

the water trucks, and maquiladoras

the child in the tub and the trash

the mariachi music and the lice

the corruption and laughter

the cinder block and and bedspring fences.


Maria of Jesus smiled

And did she may urge me to stay

Or was it I who summoned los vecinos to sing me

Onto the mountain top

Where every answer must be yes

Possessing now


A longed-for clarity

Presented by extremes

That shapes our dreams

Redeeming the disparity.

-David Heaney

January 2018

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