SNAPSHOTS OF LA LLORONA
By Juan Morales
Downriver, two young girls sweep dirt
outside the house. They erase finger drawn curses,
mixed in with nature’s work. Inside, their mama weeps
with her bible open, under her bed.
She keeps the broom across the doorway,
to keep out the uninvited.
La Llorona, your whispers send everyone running.
My friends who have met your glisten of teeth and claws
now avoid shadowy city banks—
El Paso, La Junta, Tucson, Pueblo, San Antonio
Aztec, Albuquerque—you never stop beckoning them.
I always mistake you for the gnarled trees,
climbing soaked onto the banks
of the Arkansas.
You should be the grass folding like your tears
on the river trail
where lampposts can’t light enough.
La Llorona, are you watching?
Are you drawing
the unblinking malo ojos in the dirt,
to reunite with your mouth
full of river, like two little girls and
their mother, down the
river from here?
The mama feels the chill stowed in her bones
as something waterlogged and rising
inside her. She guides her confused girls
to the riverside, wondering who else feels the depths of grief
pulling them to embrace
the river’s flow and the urging taking it all in.