Agua Santa: Holy Water by Pat Mora

By Pat Mora

Like Sonia Sanchez and Sandra Cisneros, Pat Mora attracts on oral and lyrical traditions; she reclaims the heritage and tradition of her Mexican roots, specifically actual and imagined Mexican girls of the prior, from a tribute to Frida Kahlo to an interview with an Aztec goddess.

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I listen with my skin. She is sly, the woman who hides from me, but doesn't know I feel her move with no sound down my hall.  How small and peaceful she seems, slicing carrots and cucumber in the sun, that old rhythm, the drumming of a knife, sliced circles of sun Page 38 and moon, the slow pleasure of a woman who now cooks only for herself. My hands reach to pounce on the woman who hides from me, to make her look at me and see this is my house, but she is sly, and vanishes in my fingers. Page 39 Cuidado ''Humans should smell like this," she says, walks again into beebuzz away from children's shouts, "Cuidado, Mamá," into sweet, thick nectar, the very air peach around soft, ripe fruit, mouth open for tree's breath, "Cuidado," arms rising, slow dance in the hot afternoon, woman and tree, its limbs so heavy they sway down to her bare feet, tug at the faded dress she lifts away, sheds the unnecessary.

Hijas, beware of altars and rumors of legends.  They say I called sweet as birdsong to Juan Diego rushing to the curling hum of holy incense. Como la flor de rosa. Como el arco iris. Como las nubes de gloria. Como la luna espléndida.  They need them, hijas.  Come.  Rise, but ignore halos, hovering men who look like angelitos. Como la flor de rosa. Como el arco iris. Como las nubes de gloria. Como la luna espléndida.  Play the symbols. I loan my cape to women in tennis shoes who fly back and forth across the Río Grande.

4 Buscaba otro trabajo, periódicos él vendía, después de ir a la escuela, tantas tareas tenía. 5 De chico iba a los pleitos, Soy de la prensa, decía, en periódicos se sentaba, gran boxeadores veía. Page 13 6 Jugetón desde muy joven, a su hermana asustaba, vestido en sábana blanca, como espanto gritaba. 7 Su padre, sastre paciente, su madre nunca paraba, esa familia tan grande, Raúl lo necesitaba. 8 Decía Raúl Antonio, y sin pistola en la mano, y sin caballo melado, Soy luchador mexicano. 9 Un hombre bien aplicado, gerente pues lo nombraban, su sueldo daba a su madre, amigos lo admiraban.

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