...something came to me from who-knows-where-or-how. I had a little "vision" of a young Cesar Chavez. He was a teenager picking crops in some large California field. The fleeting image I had of him included his teenage consciousness. It was an outside picture and an inside picture.
He would occasionally stand up and look out at the vast field. He would be thinking: "Every year, crops and these low wages, as if it's written forever into the roots of the world." He would sigh fatalistically as he stooped back down to continue picking. But in the back of his mind was the radical thought that maybe something could be different, that maybe people someday could be paid a human wage for their labor. The seed of an uncertain dream took on faint moisture and dim light in his young consciousness.
I wanted to write a poem about this. I can't because I'm not a good enough poet to write such a poem. (I had posted a new poem of mine a few days ago. I thought it was an okay poem. Last night, I realized it sucked so bad it could cause the formation of a black hole on Earth. I removed that poem.)
It occurs to me that I know someone who could write such a poem. All of the above radical stuff about workers' rights would have to be subtly cast, only ooze through the poem indirectly. Because politics ruins a poem, has no business elbowing itself into art. The poem would be less about a future UFW than about something metaphysical -- how the impossible might dream itself into possibility.
The poem would be mostly a series of images -- field, crop, sunlight, laborers (their clothes, expressions, postures, ironic asides). How could a poet write this poem about low wages in such a way that low wages aren't even mentioned? How could a poet make this poem in such a way that warm breeze on skin and complex smell of soil in the air come to written life? I don't know how.
Would it have to be a poet with Hispanic roots to write such a poem? Not necessarily. It would have to be a poet with imagination and nuanced talent. If such a poet happened to have Hispanic roots, then so much the better, I suppose.
I wish Lisa Alvarado would write my "Poem for Cesar Chavez."
|1927 - 1993|