Mexicali Angels

Our Lady of Guadalupe by William Crawford

Mexicali Angels


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—

Gracias profundo!

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

  1. Dave Daniel says:

    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.

  2. Suzanne Beebe says:

    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…