(Poem) The Gudrun of El Paso by Gloria Manthos

"Johann Heinrich Füssli 047" by Henry Fuseli - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - File:Johann Heinrich Füssli 047.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
“Johann Heinrich Füssli 047” by Henry Fuseli – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – File:Johann Heinrich Füssli 047.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

She sits half listening
to the sing song of Spanish words
that flit so easily
from birds who never
left their nest.
Happily caged.

Her mind conspires against itself,
her heart, betrayed.
Brittle organs burdened by brittle bones.
The beginnings of decay.

She seeks comfort in what was once familiar
but is still a stranger to it all.
Nothing is the same.

Roots. O Roots! She pines and pines
for life’s lines of breath
that still the ground.


She ponders this great desire.
Pent up rage and stifled fire
consume her peace in penance
for all the lives she’s lived before-
mother, rapist, whore.

Catcalls from the miners,
molten by the day’s labor,
chill her within herself,
confusing what may never be known.

And still the fire breathes,
consuming as surely as the furnace
that feeds iron to
shape steel.

There is no strength in solitude here,
no vitality in isolation.
She fears that she will never be
worthy of a station
among the singsong Spanish
of wives and mothers
who peck and peck at
all the others.

Not hen, not chicken, this Gudrun, a
Daphne-
Wishing for Gaia’s gift
of respite
From Apollo’s pursuit.

Read Meet Mago Contributor Gloria Manthos.