The Campesino’s Lament
It is Ash Wednesday, and Christ is waiting
to die. I have left my fields dark and moist
from last night’s rain, to take the sacrament.
My face is streaked with ashes. Come back,
Mujer. Without you,
….. I am an empty place
where spiders crawl and nothing takes root.
Today, taking the host, I remembered
your hands—incense and earth, fingertips
like white grapes I would take into my mouth
one by one.
….. When I enter the house,
it resists me like an angry woman. Our room,
your things, the bed—a penance
I offer up for Lent. Waking with you,
I would fill myself with the morning,
in sweet mango breaths. Watching you sleep,
I willed my dreams into you.
But clouds cannot be harvested, nor children
wished into life.
….. In the wind that may travel
as far as you have gone, I send this message: Out here,
in a place you will not forget, a simple man
has been moved to curse the rising sun and to question
God’s unfinished work.
by Judith Ortiz Cofer
from Touching the Fire
Anchor Books, 1998