Poetic License: Milagros – Miracle Mine
Madonna Doll of the Embroidered See-through Mantilla Skirt
And Matching Undergarment, Our Lady of Basket
On the Head, Cestacabeza –forgive me, I confess:
I hid you from my grandchildren, here on a visit.
They would have loved you immediately, as I did,
But at four and two years of age, I feared they would dissect
And disassemble the array of innumerable odds and ends,
Tiny pots and jars, charms, relics, buttons, fabric remnants
So lovingly retrieved, soft sculpted and resurrected
As Milagros, Miracle Mannequin of Blessed Latina Memory.
And so Milagros, I have you all for myself again.
I can hear you as Mami, singing in Spanish as you nurse me,
And as Abuelita, charming me to sleep with saucy stories.
I am with you, Vendedora, in La Plaza, playing nearby
While you try to sell enough for our evening meal.
And now I am older and trying to woo you by reciting Neruda
And Lorca — but you are not impressed and suggest I try boleros.
Finally, I am hombre enough for you; we meet and love,
Not forever, but long enough for us to always remember.
Milagros, Rag Doll Madonna, I offer you my poem
In praise and thanks for the magic and mystery,
The miracle of art and craft that created you,
That revives in me the memory of the women
Who bore and raised me, who loved me first,
Who gave me language, thought and feeling.
From the raw roots and fibers within me,
From the Latino memory, myth and material within me,
Let rise this alabanza, this hymn of praise to you,
Milagros, Madre, Latina, Miracle Mine.
(The soft-sculpture at left, by Katie Gardenia, inspired Joe Pacheco’s poem “Milagros — Miracle Mine” for the 2009 ARTPoems.)