Friday, July 3, 2009

Poetry Friday - Refugio's Hair

I came upon this poem quite by accident. I was researching a Spanish woman from New Spain, which led me to the cattle industry, which led me to branding, which led me to early pictograph writing, which led to oral histories, which led to storytelling, which finally led me to this. It's a great example of story telling in the form of a poem. Each line had me wondering and guessing about the outcome, and the tone and the mood fits it perfectly. And what a last sentence!

Refugio’s Hair

In the old days of our family,
My grandmother was a young woman
Whose hair was as long as the river.
She lived with her sisters on the ranch
La Calera--The Land of the Lime--
And her days were happy.
But her uncle Carlos lived there too.
Carlos, whose soul had the edge of a knife.
One day, to teach her to ride a horse,
He made her climb on the fastest one,
Bareback, and sit there
As he held its long face in his arms.
And then he did the unspeakable deed
For which he would always be remembered:
He called for the handsome baby Pirrín
And he placed the child in her arms.
With that picture of a Madonna on horseback
He slapped the shank of the horse's rear leg.
The horse did what a horse must,
Racing full toward the bright horizon.
But first he ran under the álamo trees
To rid his back of this unfair weight:
This woman full of tears
And this baby full of love.
When they reached the trees and went under,
Her hair, which had trailed her,
Equal in its magnificence to the tail of the horse,
That hair rose up and flew into the branches
As if it were a thousand arms,
All of them trying to save her.
The horse ran off and left her,
The baby still in her arms,
The two of them hanging from her hair.
The baby looked only at her
And did not cry, so steady was her cradle.
Her sisters came running to save them.
But the hair would not let go.
From its fear it held on and had to be cut,
All of it, from her head.
From that day on, my grandmother
Wore her hair short like a scream,
But it was long like a river in her sleep.

-- Alberto Rios

Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted by Tabatha Yeatts


laurasalas said...

Oh. My. I love short poems, and I looked at this and thought, "Eh." So glad I read it. What a gripping story! Those last two lines are gorgeous, and my favorite line is

Carlos, whose soul had the edge of a knife.


I'm Jet . . . said...

Fabuloso poema!

Melissa said...

What an amazing poem! It had me wondering and guessing line to line as well. Thank you for sharing!

Diane Mayr said...

Barb--I looked up the author, Alberto Rios, and I found that he had written a poem that I have above my desk at work, "Teodoro Luna's Two Kisses." I don't know where I found the poem originally, but I liked it and so it's been hanging on the wall for a number of years now! On the basis of "Teodoro" and "Refugio's Hair," I think it's safe to say that I like this guy's poetry! I'll have to look for more and confirm the statement. Maybe I'll share "Teodoro" next Poetry Friday at Random Noodling.