My Neighborhood is Mexico




The guys across the street

get up early Sunday morning

to wash their trucks

and I awaken to my windows

rattling and shaking

to a festive tuba

and a dancing accordion


In the market I encounter

a cadre of mamacitas

blocking the canned goods section

their brown eyes flash

and they turn away, discounting me,

and keeping me from the cache of salsa


The family a few doors down

has invited us to birthday dinners for their children-

all brown and beautiful

with gleaming eyes and flowing rivers of hair-

and they have been patient

and amused with me


I beg for them to sing for me

the Mexican Birthday song

They laugh and deny me

just enough to see me squirm and plead

Then Antonio begins to sing

Closing his eyes and raising his open hand up slowly

then Leti joins him in her soft voice

finding the words

and then twisting them around his

in a sweet harmony


Other family members join in

and the birthday child

beams up at them.

her soft face full of love

and a tear in the corner of her eye

Abalito, who was nodding in the corner,

sputters out a few words

and his head drops back to his chest,

reminisces circling his head like a crown

Even the babies stop tumbling,

eyes round and mouths open,

to listen to such beauty

coming from their parents mouths


Another round of chorus

and another bowl of pizole`

with lots of lemon and shredded cabbage

and fresh sliced rabenno,

and we pack up and head for home

heads full of romantic Spanish words

and songs and places we won’t see


When I drive past the fields

the pickers are leaning against cars, smoking,

and bringing their flats to the trucks

laughing and calling to each other

still joyful

even after ten and twelve hour days

bent over in the fields

breaking their backs so we can eat

Brussels sprouts and fresh strawberries

and they can afford tortillas and pintos

maybe something left over

to send home to Mexico


My neighborhood is Mexico

and though I don’t have the heat,

I do have the dust

and the music

and the culture

and the food

and the friendship


Copyright Jennifer E. George 4/21/2002

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