Across the Southwest Our Mothers Were Sidelined

  for the children who have died in the custody of the U.S. Government

Gustavo Hernandez

Across the Southwest our mothers were sidelined,
hidden behind the nopalera, the huizachera,
bottlebrush and manzanita. Some sat
in a circle where bluebonnet grew.
I will tell you
that the bold among them leaned
against the palo verde, in the open, armed
with ancient medicine—palms warming
rue and linden flower. Others, mages
of the modern, having memorized
the names and symbols on the cold
pharmacy shelves.
I will tell you
that mine was among them, waiting
for an opening, that familiar concern
and self-assuredness coloring her brow.
I can assure you
that, given a chance, any one of them
could have made it better, could have
put a hand across the bright plane
of your forehead and quietly prayed
open the path to another spring for you

Gustavo Hernandez is the author of the poetry collection Flower, Grand, First (Skull + Wind Press 2021). His work has previously been published in Rattle, Acentos Review, Sonora Review and other publications. He was born in Jalisco, Mexico and lives in Southern California.