LA PERRERA OF CHAVEZ RAVINE
by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo
Chavez Ravine, 1949
La Perrera lived with a handsome man
much younger than she.
Neighbor women gossiped across clotheslines
that she held him with witchcraft.
But it was long black braids streaked white
that kept him coming to her bed.
At night, she entwined his taut body to her,
braids weaving through limbs,
around iron posts of her bed,
between wooden slats of her shack,
until she, he and everything around became one.
But on August days, when want grew restless,
she commanded black braids like hound dogs,
like hairy henchmen, to sniff him out
of factories or construction sites
and guide him home. Once, he was in an orchard
as far out as Oxnard with arms full of oranges
when braids hunted him down.
Bright orbs dropped to the fertile soil,
and off he was led back to her bosom, to her lips,
to her hips, bed and shack. But he never minded
when he found himself wrapped in her.
From The American Poetry Review, January/February 2015.