Forewarned / Prevenido

by Diana Anhalt

Mexico, balanced on the backbone of miracles, survives anyway.
The mundane, steeped in magia and milagros, happens
a mile a minute, flourishes side by side with the maguey.
To live in such a place and not believe?  Imposible!
Remember, roses grew on Tepayac Hill where nothing took root.
A carving of the virgin sheds real tears. They taste like blood.
And Rio Nautla water runs uphill after the rains arrive.

On Día de los Muertos the dead dance among tombstones,
eat mole Oaxaqueño. If you bury the afterbirth close to home,
your daughters will not stray. Hang sage in the threshold
to keep the evil out. A potion of cinnamon, egg white and laurel
cures heartbreak, heartburn too.  Keep a lock of lover’s hair
tied in red ribbon beneath your bed. It will keep him honest.
Plant at midnight beneath the crescent moon. Your crop will flourish.

This is the place I come from. Here magia is worth a handstand
and a song.  Minor miracles come cheap: A curandera will reverse
your luck for fifty pesos and an egg. An egg in her hand absorbs
the mala vibra. Crack it open. The yolk is curdled, the white goes black.
Do I believe?  I do not know, but just in case, por si las moscas,
I wear milagro charms around my neck to keep the evil eye at bay:
a coin for wealth,  a heart for health, a leg to keep me grounded.

Musical composition by Victor David Sandiego

Diana Anhalt, a former resident of Mexico City, moved to Atlanta, GA in 2010 to be closer to family. She is the author of A Gathering of Fugitives: American Political Expatriates in Mexico 1947-1965 (Archer Books), two chapbooks, Shiny Objects and Second Skin, (Future Cycle Press) and essays, articles and book reviews in both English and Spanish. Most recently, her poems have appeared in Nimrod, Atlanta Review, Comstock Review, Border Senses and Sin Fronteras.


By Karen Paul Holmes on Aug 05, 2013 09:32 (UTC)

Simply wonderful poem, and well read too

By Marie-Blanche Darmendrail on Aug 05, 2013 10:01 (UTC)

Through your words, rimes and rythm, Diana, you know how to convey the mystery and uniqueness of Mexico. You've captured it so well through your deep knowledge of the simple and humble that I feel donnected to it with no restraint.

By Marie-Blanche Darmendrail on Aug 05, 2013 10:08 (UTC)

no "donnected", but connected obviously ...

By Lois on Aug 05, 2013 11:14 (UTC)

Everything whips up into a holy froth of myth and wonder at the charms and legends that are beloved Mexico. A poet's poem, steeped in details and experience that tells it like it is. A country is not just a place on the map it is a house for our soul. We paint its doors with the dreams of its inhabitants.

By Margare Gunn on Aug 05, 2013 11:19 (UTC)

What an evocative poem, conjuing up the mystery of Mexico. The descriptive words were so enhanced by your reading of it, Diana, and the background,eerie music certainly enhanced the poem even more.

By Wilda Morris on Aug 05, 2013 13:57 (UTC)

Just this morning I was rereading poems in SECOND SKIN, and enjoying the evocations of Mexico. I was so pleased to be sent the link to this excellent poem! It reminds me why I love Mexico - and why I admire the poetry of Diana Anhalt.

By Suzanne Cane y Olvera on Aug 05, 2013 19:18 (UTC)

Diana hits it right on the head. There is no way to escape the magic of Mexico - or the aromas and sounds. I write this as I hear the whistle of the camote man who is a part of the nightly background music. Ay, Jewish Guadalupana, there is no way to escape the memory, is there?

By Susan Holm on Aug 06, 2013 07:30 (UTC)

Diana, your choice and use of detail are exquisite, and I love to hear your voice. You read the poem beautifully! This bears reading so many more times, and I look forward to that! My only regret is that I'm retired from teaching so I can't use this in my Mexican culture class!

By Nancy Raeburn on Aug 07, 2013 07:13 (UTC)

Dear Diana--What an exquisite poem! It took me right back to Mexico--and to Greece, where I lived so many years and where the people use many charms and folkloric methods to assure their safety, good health and fortune. The poem speaks of the universal human need to believe there is something greater than ourselves and to the many expressions that need can take. The music added a third dimension that enhanced your words. It was great hearing your voice again after all these years! You read it so well.

By Carla Hagen on Aug 07, 2013 09:32 (UTC)

If anything, your poems about México have sweetened and deepened in exile (albeit self-exile). This is a wonderful poem--lyrical, longing, with both humor and darkness. And your voice! You pronounce the words in Spanish with a love that captures your love of the place. We can leave Mexico, but it never leaves us, ¿verdad?
Muchos besos.

By Frances Bruton on Aug 07, 2013 11:34 (UTC)

Your poem was so beautiful and evocative, and I am here in Mexico.
Your poetry since your departure for Atlanta is better than ever.
Please send more.
Grandes abrazos, Frances

By Trish Thomas on Aug 08, 2013 09:56 (UTC)

Kudos to both poet and producer! Diana's wonderful words and reading voice were enhanced by the evocative soundtrack that matched the mood of the poem perfectly. What an enjoyable few minutes, daydreaming of Mexico's unique charms.