by Jimmy Santiago Baca
I have been reading on Buddhism
to deal with the dark in me.
To be a good father to you
and nourish the cactus blossom you are, Lucia.
To teach you to keep your thorny spines intact
and alert for unwanted intruders,
to open your soul and heart to sun each morning
as if it were the first time opening, first time seeing,
touching and hearing the world.
we turned the garden hose on and I sprayed you and Esai,
you under the arc of bright water
opened your arms under the umbrella of flashing waterfall
each droplet with gusto, with dancing and spinning
and running laughter,
while I thought of the floods in Pakistan
five million homeless, farmers committing suicide,
while corporations buy up every acre to plant
one type of corn, one type of beet, one type of strawberry—
when what your soul tells me is life is varied and multiplies
a thousand times a minute into unique and singular blossoms
of being, your essence my sweet child
is the wind-shredded tip
of a prayer flag, wind snapping
with innocent joy
at the cold summit.
As if people were not starving, as if whole communities
were not wiped out,
as if one hundred and fifty Mexican women were not
raped yesterday by the cartels,
as if one’s Hollywood ego was more important
than life, than breath, than soul—
and I hear my friends saying, But Jimmy, the world has to go on,
despite people wanting to deny the mosque so close
to ground zero 9/11 site,
despite 6000 murders in Juarez from cartel madmen,
despite all the cringing and gear-grinding mayhem,
most of us react like cooing rooftop cage pigeons,
afraid of angering the award-givers, the approval givers
the acceptance givers.
I know, just ignore it as most do, close my mind and heart to it.
After months of not mowing the lawn, I start up the lawnmower
and while you sit under the patio umbrella and watch me, Lucia,
everything is as it should be—the weeds, the tall grass, you sipping
your lemonade, the sun in the blue sky,
you don’t ask why so many weeds,
why the lawn hasn’t been cut all summer,
just as when you change clothes a dozen times
or you dance to your music in the sunroom,
life brims with abundant weeds, heady with seeds,
papa limping along with a torn calf muscle,
content as the day’s late summer sun
know that a little girl’s love can heal
a papa’s aching heart.