By Jim Provencher
A chorus of angels
soars through the dusty streets
of a Mexicali morning.
It could be anywhere
along the Line—cartel-torn,
half-deserted, furtive, uneasy.
Still, children are singing—
It’s Christmastime after all,
and I follow the sound
into a white-washed adobe chapel
where small voices fill incensed air,
melting hard hearts, mi corazon duro
Its back pressed up against the Line,
Mexicali sprawls forever south, drifting
into shimmering Baja Badlands.
The children begin distributing their
small presents and a wide-eyed child
offers hers to me—Oh, I can’t…
I’m not…the watchful teacher
gently tugging my arm—take it,
Por favor, Senor, you must.
Opening my hands, answering
deep questioning eyes—
The Ite, Missa Est sends us
filing out into a shabby, ruined world,
the fallen disarray where cherubim figures
beam down from every rooftop
onto unpaved bordertown streets.
Back on the other side
in my Calexico Motel room
barricaded with iron-barred windows,
my safe prison cell, I unwrap
the child’s gift: homemade sweets,
a silver cross, bundled into a drinking cup
swaddled with a soft golden scarf.
The handwritten note—
Feliz Navidad, Feliz Ano Nuevo
Tu compadre, Mona
Sucking a sweet, carrying a cross,
I venture out into early desert dark
for Christmas lights, the scarf
wound warmly round my neck.
Do you believe in angels?
Do you believe in children, the pure flight
of their voices? I believe in everything.
10 Responses to Mexicali Angels
A welcome Christmas collaboration with a close colleague & friend. What next?! A New Year’s rendezvous with Jack Kerouac’s ghost? A great portrait opp.
In my youth I heard such music drifting across the Rio Grande. Thank you.
Especially poignant photo and poem!
The sweet tintinnabulations of angel voices in the “shabby, ruined world” affirm the season of hope, and sometimes all we need do is surrender. Dig the poem and the photo.
Send the photo and the poem to POTUS 45.
A nicely sensitive one, Jim. I remember you telling me of your affection for Mexico.
Bill and Jim
Beautiful, moving, and a wonderful juxtaposition!
Excellent poem. The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is poignant and powerful for all the ways in which it touches on racism, conquest, the shaping of a people’s character and religiosity, and the persistence of grace, mercy, and hope in the midst of it all. Thanks for posting…
Gracias Jim. Your exquisite poem helps us continue to “believe in everything”.