Barrio Alto

Colonia Microondas, Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico outside La Iglesia de Santa Maria de los Angeles, known as “La Portiuncula”

On the wind-scourged top of a steep rock-strewn saddle
the strewn chabolas of the poorest of the poor in the barrio-
Colonia Proletaria on high,

Blown dust burns into exposed arms,
faces turn in awe and dismay from the 360 degree land/seascape,
a billion dollar view in the States.

But to be wealthy here is to be close to the action or the ocean.
The action isn’t on hilltops,
out of eyeshot, forgotten, wall-less, exposed, bent.

To open one’s eyes from the dead soil of this hill,
is to open them onto a view of mountain and sea
that is a majesty of God’s good punishing world,

See there?
Durer’s Icharus, white legs up,
limned for a second in the polluted bay.

Juan Pablo sweeping the open chapel will come to you gently
seeking work, a handout, shared words –
especially shared words.

Happily chattering without listening or seeing,
you passed so blithely
their wretched and holy chabolas so close to heaven.

Go back and remind Juan Pablo what he just said,
reminding you too – “Es bonito.”
“Si, es muy bonito. Es hermoso.”

On the way down the hill, call to your better mind
the squalor of the northward crossing in Nogales – to home.
Recall that you don’t feel welcome there anymore.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.