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  Poetry of Carmen Tafolla 
 

Marked

Never write
with pencil
mi'ja
It is for those
who would erase.


Make your mark proud
and open,
Brave,
beauty folded into
its imperfection,
Like a piece of turquoise
marked.

Never write
with a pencil,
mi'ja.
Write with ink
or mud,
or berries grown in
gardens never owned,
or, sometimes,
if necessary,
blood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Miss Low

La Miss Low
was tall and thin
and wore her pale hair tight
on her small head
like the skin
of a pea.
La Rosary always said
she wished she could comb her
well
so she would look
pretty
but since she was a teacher
and we were just kids,
La Rosary told her
nothing.

La Miss Low would stand close
to Mr. Mason
thinking, we think,
to appear more elegant
by standing in close proximity
to a ma,

even if he was married
and with a crewcut that only he
thought made him look handsome,
but when he turned his head
to her
to say a few words,
between classes, in that noisy hall,
it was just them,
the two of then,
Hero and Heroine,
amidst all of us kids,
and she felt
mature,
elegant,
intimate,
laughing slow and sophisticated
at anything
he said.
 

La Miss Low didn't say much
tried to raise her head high
like a noble figure,
to let her silence
(guardian of the princess)
speak for her,
speak complex things
very sensitive things,
to keep her face without expression,
thereby showing the nobility of her soul,
to set a superior example
for these uncultured children.

La Rosary would say
that if she could comb her hair for her,
full and soft,
and let it grow
a little,
and add a few curls...
if she could paint that face
with a little more color
and teach her to let go a little,
to let her feelings show,
that she could make her
look
prettier,

La Miss Low
was tall and thin
and poised herself
like a statue
of civilization
amidst chaos
while La Rosary saw her
like fertile ground, awaiting the seed,
and Rosary there, wanting to cultivate,
willingly, her garden.
"Did you get number 7?" I would ask her,
and she would open her book with a long sigh,
saying, "I could make her
look
real pretty."
But since she was a teacher
and we were just kids,
La Rosary
told her nothing.