Summer, 2008

Steven Schneider

Three Poems

About Love

When you come to understand that your life
Is a chrysalis hanging by a thread---
You need to be ready to split open.
You need to be willing to let the butterfly out.

Goddess of Watermelons

The goddess of watermelons
Floats in the sky above Ciudad Victoria.
She wears a white silk robe
And looks down on all the fruits of the city.
She floats in from the white-stuccoed church
Nestled in the hillside of the Sierra Madre.
She comes to bless the sellers of sandias,
Whose red juices and black seeds run like arroyos
Over hardwood kitchen tables and rose-tiled floors.
The soft watery fruit fills the stomachs
Of field workers, nuns, professors of agronomy
Who come to bow at its sweetness.
The goddess of watermelons floats above Ciudad Victoria,
Patron saint of oval green melons.

Viento Libre 

The wind is free blowing across the fields
On either side of the road to Ciudad Victoria,
Capital of Tamaulipas,
City of watermelon vendors and outdoor statues of the Virgen,
City of nighttime mariachis, planets, stars,
Civil engineers and street beggars.

In el Club Nocturno,
Tucked in a corner
Of the Sierra Gorda Hotel lobby,
On a corner of the central square of the capital,
A trio is playing tangos and romantic ballads
Late into the night.
We sit at a table drinking shots of tequila—
Cien Años for a long life –
And listen to the drummer, keyboard player, and male vocalist.

The darkness is impenetrable in the mountains
That ring the city.

But here inside el Club Nocturno
The music warms the air like a brightly-colored sarape.
A big, muscular woman sits at a table, alone,
Smoking a cigarette.
She looks as if she came to this city
To work in a factory,
Or to mop floors of a government building.
Her hair is gray and tied into a bun
Behind her head.

The darkness is impenetrable in the mountains
That ring the city.

When a patron of the club,
A thin, balding man wearing shades,
Walks up to her table and asks her to dance,
She puts out the cigarette
And takes the floor with him.
Slowly, as they tango across the dance floor,
She is transformed into a hibiscus flower.
The blossoms of her youth burst open
Like sparks blown by the viento libre
Across the sky on diez y seis de Septiembre.