"Morada y Rosa" - A Tribute

Sierra Gorda Queretaro. Nicole Salgado, 2018
By Peace Corps Mexico
May 29, 2020

'Morada y Rosa' is a tribute poem by John-Michael Bloomquist, former Peace Corps Mexico Volunteer.

'Morada y Rosa,' a poem by RPCV John-Michael Bloomquist, is a heartfelt tribute to his former place of residence and service with the English Education program, written soon after his departure from Mexico. After writing 'Morada y Rosa,' John-Michael stated, "I wrote this poem for PC folks, thinking of how it could speak to them. I’m so glad to [have been] a part of Peace Corps, it’s such an amazing group of folks." Peace Corps Mexico thanks John-Michael for graciously sharing his literary craft with the Peace Corps family, as well as him and all his former fellow Volunteers for their service. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did, and it gives you a small taste of the Mexico service experience.

Morada y Rosa | John-Michael Bloomquist | 27 March 2020

I.

We drove through the legend—

the map unfolding in a grey-breasted

jay

feather,

its curves, the mountain ridge,

the outline of a body

curled in fetal position around

us

who were there in

the polychromic blanket spread

across the bed.

Sometimes we get those moments—

When the pupil dilates around

the yellow light beam in a turquoise cenote,

where the huddled roots stretch their long necks

down the lip edge to drink

the only water hole on earth

they know exists, pushing down

with such lovely and compulsory

ignorance toward the center

of the earth

—in those moments,

(when I forget who I am

and where I come from)

I remember I’m always at the navel

of the earth.

But in this moment,

my host father is driving us to the airport

in his manila VW that I wish I could lick

the bumper of

like a sticky seal

and fold it,

stamp it,

and mail the world

he’s shown me

with its

frayed seats and sweet

smell of mango skin

on

ahead of me

so that when I got to where I’m going

I’d be greeted by family.

The windshield is cracked,

a spidering catalogue of the river

whose course holds mountains

slipped into sand

through

the noose of time.

En la temporada de lluvia, hay

una cascada, he says, pointing to a crag

of rocks snaking down the valley to the left.

I’ve not seen the spring. The rain

that makes rivers span the land

briefly as a shed

snake’s skin echoing the ghost

of a body full of muscle,

scales, and color. I will only know it

from what he tells me. We will miss

missing this place.

That’s the most I can say

of a place

I didn’t get to know for a whole

year. It’s like seeing only half

a picture. It’s a nice lie to say it’s a beautiful

place, not because it is less

beautiful than it is

but because I don’t know what colors

complete the other side.

II.

el cielo es morado y los nubes rosa

I say in my broken Spanish trying to cover up

the silence filling the car.

The words slide like salt stones

on my tongue, they’re sweet as a guayaba

cut with chili and lime, the tough

slick

seeds

rolling down

my belly. It has sprouted

a little green flame, and grows roots

that spread down my sides—

fence wire a white-tailed deer has broken

through, smearing its fur with blood

the dust-wind has

dried and scabbed the wound.

There is a wound in the air

and it circles me.

The wind moves and the leaves speak,

spreading the branches of my arms.

I want my father to hold in one hand the sun

and in the other the moon,

to keep them apart so that I can go down

this road

without it changing. Each sphere in its own part

of the sky, giving light to the other,

morada y rosa—

changing

this road we’re going down with families

that change the meaning of family,

leaving a country that changes the meaning

of history, leaving communities that change

the meaning of home, back

to our own tierra where the land from the plane

seems to look at us strangely

asking, donde esta la frontera?

Because it knows we no longer can answer,

Aqui, o alla.

III.

When I finally see my family

in the states, I remember my

familia anfitriona en México

the pozole madre made for my birthday,

the tortillas everyday because everyday I got hungry

just like her eight other children,

the map padre drew with green pen

for safe and red for ten cuidado.

A hermana explaining feminism

Aqui, es vida o muerte para las mujeres

and another hermana telling me she loves math

because she can understand cómo se dobla la luz.

Another hermano, Jesùs,

reminded me Christ could’ve easily

just as well have been a dairy farmer

bloodshot with a laugh horses bolted out of

on Sunday morning when he took

the day off to tell jokes and drink a sprite.

I remember the baby they all took care of,

how the youngest sister, 13 years old,

held his little head so it wouldn’t bump around

as we drove up the mountains,

and then, at the top,

the grandmother pretending

to eat his little toes.

And then I remember

I remember

the laughter most of all.

IV.

The garambullo’s thick green bones stood

like an upside down chandelier

giving light to my head, then

a wind blew and the flames went out

and now I don’t know where I am.

I look at my hands,

they’ve spread their cells

over that and this

land. What has been done

cannot be undone

even if I’m gone. There is comfort

in what cannot be erased.

Look— in the palms of trees

and friends, there you are. Feeding the roots of the

next guayaba tree. And in your own

body grow the cells that built themselves

from the maize. Grow

out of that. Grow inside that.

It will not leave you.

John-Michael Bloomquist

About the author: RPCV John-Michael Bloomquist is a human poet from planet Earth but sometimes feels like he is from another star-system. Most recently, he was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mexico. He has also lived in Poland and in many states across the U.S. He has volunteer taught poetry at the Monroe County Jail in Indiana, and he co-edited and helped publish Poems from the Jail Dorm, a collection of poetry by incarcerated men published by Monster House Press. His poetry has been published in COG, The Superstition Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Matter, Third Coast, Painted Bride Quarterly, and more.

Author photo: John-Michael Bloomquist, 2020.

Featured Photo: Nicole Salgado, 2018.


Add comment