Selection 2

by Gloria Gervitz

I’m in the pleasure within the pleasure of pleasuring myself
and my nanny sound asleep in the hammock nearby
and the house submerging in drowsiness
and in the plaza the market starts to bustle with activity
there’s orange juice and grapefruit juice
and rice milk and hibiscus tea and tamarind water
and strawberry atole and hot chocolate champurrado
and sweet tamales and Oaxacan tamales
and papayas and plums and Manila mangoes
and purple bananas and plantains
bunches of dominicos and tabascos
watermelons redder than blood
soursopslike vaginas on display
bright red capulin berries
pomegranates dribbling juice
black zapotes spilling over
mameys split open like vulvas
fat juicy pineapples
the passion fruit growing hard
and the heat entering the palm mats
entering the palm baskets
entering the sea bream
and the red buckets of shrimp
entering the lobsters
and the red rock crab legs
the bundles of freshwater crabs the mackerel for ceviche
and the clams partly opened and altogether stunned
the flaccid octopuses fainting in their ink
the oysters dreaming they’re at the bottom of the sea
the tiny oysterssmall as pebbles from the river
the white pompanos from Michoacán
the fresh and saltwater trout
the translucent jack fish and the sea bass
and the carp from Morelos and the scallops
and the charales their heads smashed
the large red snappers
and the shark fins
and the heat wings crashing
smashing them in the bougainvilleas
smashing the squash blossoms and goosefoot leaves
and lovagefor the birds and the radishes
and clusters of loquats and ears of corn
unraveling in burlap coffee sacks
and the canary seed and amaranth
and sacks of millet and beans
and baskets brimming with chili peppers
the jalapeño morita ancho cascabel
guajillo manzano chile de árbol chilaca
and the pequin so tiny and hot and the habaneros
and mole paste green red black yellow
and poblano and sesame seeds for every kind of mole
and Oaxacan string cheese wound like balls of yarn
and ash-ripened goat cheese and farmer’s cheese and aged cotija
and manchego for quesadillas
and corn tlayudas and tlacoyos and mortars and metates for grinding
and braziers and palm leaf fans
and shawls from Santa María hanging in the stone arcades
guayaberas and blouses made of linen from the maguey tree
openwork embroidery from the nuns in Aguascalientes
magical drawings from the Mayan weaver women
t-shirts that say Viva Méxicowith the eagle perched on the cactus
feverish and delirious alebrijes
and sandals soled with rope or tire tread and combs made of wood and plastic
and necklaces made of crystal and tourmaline and amber and tiger’s eye
and butterflies and angels and agate and onyx and ebony
and periwinkles and ornamental combs of mother-of-pearl and tortoiseshell
and Nivea hand cream and Tío Nacho’s shampoo
cross-stitched embroidered hearts
and soaps made of almonds and rose petals and oatmeal
and coconut and chamomile
and the overheated heat blazing with Celsius
plunging into the sweet breads the conchas and cuernos
and the cookies with clotted cream slathered with honey and María cookies
and myrtle candies and quince and guava jellies
sweet potatoes from Puebla and pine nuts and chickpeas and pumpkin seeds
and rolling tobacco and vanilla from Papantla and cinnamon sticks
and swallows swinging on strands of light
and filaments of heat dangling
and roots dangling from God knows where to God knows where
and arnica and rue and aloe leaves
and etherium capsules and bunches of eucalyptus leaves
and basil and myrtle and white lágrimas
and gloriasfor the altars
and votive candles and altar candles and cards printed with images of saints
and miraculous medallions and scapulars
and amulets to ward off the evil eye
and sticks of incense and crystalized copal
and a riot of voices
and birds full of cages
and cages of parakeets with clipped wings
and foulmouthed green parrots cursing blue streaks
and the church bells calling the faithful to mass
and music here and music there
and flocks of lorikeets
and mockingbirds from other landscapes and other memories
and the protracted trill of yellow canaries
and the organ grinder cranking the handle around and around
and cranking out the same old hurdy-gurdy tune
and a violin sad and lean
and a daydreaming guitar
and an out-of-tune trio singing:
tú me acostumbraste a todas esas cosas
y tu me enseñaste que son maravillosas.

Migrations: Poem, 1976–2020

Last updated December 24, 2022