(Art poem) Speaking to the Virgin by Eileen Haley

Meet Mago Contributor Eileen Haley.

Inspired by Yvonne M Lucia’s recent post, I would like to share one of my Guadalupe poems. The original Virgin of Guadalupe is Spanish and has strong colonial and conquest associations: among other things, it was at the Monastery of Guadalupe in Extremadura that Isabella and Ferdinand signed documents authorising the first voyage of Christopher Columbus, and it was to this monastery that in 1496 Columbus brought two indigenous men to be baptised, the first New World converts to Christianity.

This poem celebrates the Virgin’s escape from those associations.

SPEAKING TO THE VIRGIN

Guadalupe, Spain

 

I looked at the wooden doll

wrapped in its mantle

of satin and gold

and knew it was not you

 

You had fled long ago

gone west over the horizon

to set up home

in the heart of Mexico

where the old earth goddess

had just been

reduced to rubble

 

You threw in your lot

with the downtrodden

those conquered in your name

 

You rode with Hidalgo

for independence and freedom

 

You rode with Zapata

for land and liberty

 

You went on strike with César Chavez

in the grape fields of California

for fair wages and dignity

 

You marched with the people of Atenco

against the plans

for a new Mexico City airport

that would have taken their lands

and the lake

where ducks land on their journeys

back and forth

along their ancestral path

 

You live

with the poor of the earth

carried close to their hearts

La Generala

prophetess

dreamer

swelling with new life

with the age to come

that will be born when times seem darkest

when the proud will be scattered

in the conceit of their hearts

the mighty put down from their seats

the lowly exalted

the hungry filled with good things

and the rich

sent

empty

away

mural-gpePlay

 

The image accompanying the poem is a photoshop composition by me and shows a brightly-coloured contemporary Mexican mural of Guadalupe wearing a Zapatista bandana above a faded image of the original Spanish Virgin of Guadalupe. (The Spanish Virgin of Guadalupe is one of the Black Madonnas of Spain; but that would be another story …)

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