Albuquerque poet Margaret Randall, whose most recent books include STONES WITNESS
, TO CHANGE THE WORLD: MY YEARS IN CUBA
and THEIR BACKS TO THE SEA
, has a new collection of poetry about what it was like as a young woman to grow up in this city in the 1940s, '50s, and '60s against a backdrop of the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the social hypocrisy that engulfed young women at the time. This poem is from that collection.
Nothing was What it Pretended
Words I’d never heard took up residence
in my mouth.
, even if city signage
refused to put the tilda over the n,
names like De Vargas
, Cabeza de Vaca
or Juan Tabó
shepherds and assassins enshrined on street corners
unquestioned and mispronounced.
Indian words like Acoma
or place names like Canyon de Chelly
the conquerors left us with
when they couldn’t speak what they couldn’t hear.
Names imposed: Oñate
, Santa Fe
Another’s holy faith bringing death
and leaving division, delighting
those who arrive on private planes.
Common words like tijeras
scissors and beans
began to quiver on my tongue,
stood easily in later years.
I too came from somewhere else,
a childhood far away,
with other sounds in my ears,
other familiars in my mouth.
The new words tested teeth, stretched lips
and exercised my landscape
until language caught meaning in its net
and I knew nothing was what it pretended.
Poetry submissions are always welcome. Email TheDitchRider@gmail.com.