The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood

Marcos Martínez – Poetry

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Marcos Martínez

 

Amá (El Cruce)

I. Puentes

She drowned one once, caught
its scraggly little feelers in the whoosh and spout of faucet,
flushed its fragile alien body down
the stainless-steel sink: black
against silver, sliding and swirling down a whirlpool to oblivion.

Black ants: each Spring
return, crawl back into her kitchen, scurry to
make ends meat
for their own budding colony;
sniffing out crumbs, tracing pheromone-trails
in case they don’t return: calling forth
siblings to some food-
-rich new home.

II. In This Other Country

Sweep, mop, scrub, brush, wash, chop, toss, bake:
her body whirled about, home-
-making for somebody else’s family; her children
left behind.

Day to day, making ends
meat: end of the week: come Friday,
waiting
to whisk back her
little ones for a moment. Making due, making ends. Meet
on Friday, an end’s
day – precursor to week-
end. She

remembers bridge-
-crossings, El Río Bravo coursing
wild below her, each rough passage treacherous as she left
each child behind, awaiting her
return while she worked: cleaned houses, toiled kitchens, swept
floors, meted out her labors to make ends
meat, enough to bring her family
over: making each piece of her
meet at last.
[Amá (El Cruce) – cont.]

III. Hormigas de Azúcar

In later years she reflected on a strand of sugar-ants:
each writhing, wriggling creature
tickling along her granddaughter’s plump, uncalloused fingers:
unlabored, smooth, innocent as plums
but gripping
fragile limbs,
waiting to be crushed.

IV. Una Peregrinación de Hormigas de Fuego

As a child she saw them once –
near a flooded stream off San Luis Potosí, a sunflare colony
alight as flame: their filamented limbs
clasped tight as filigree:
mandible to pincer, sting to stinger, each clinging to the next:
linked, afloat, a life-raft
burnt live and drifting up unto itself, eggs floating,
generations salvaged
– bright red web of fire-
-ants glistening above water.

V. Colonias

River below,
the whirl and swirl as she scampered across
bridges so many
times each year:
soap, supplies, food-runs, water, sodas. And each Spring
she’d come
back
across,
child to hip, uno a la vez
green-card in hand. The time it took to collect
them all, six
years and counting each stride
across that bridge. Keeping afloat. Watch the river crest below them
hand in verdant hand, yearning to come home.
Pledging allegiance, one by one,
each child a new lineage
rooting her home.


Marcos L. Martínez is a Macondo and Lambda Literary Fellow and co-founder of Stillhouse Press. His work has appeared in Split This Rock, the HIV+/- Project, Whiskey Island, and RiverSedge. Projects include a novel and poetry collection that address how human hearts trouble the world. Born in Brownsville, TX, Marcos earned a BA from Georgetown University, an MFA from George Mason University, and is a writing lecturer at GWU and NYU. @markLmtz

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