Mis raíces

We are in the desert, lips cracked,
mouth dried like freshly milled maize.

The ground sighs as if inconvenienced
by each of our steps over its thirsty ochre.

There are tall green nopales lined in neat rows,
reminding me how even here abundance is possible.

Grandfather asks me my thoughts of the land,
so, I ask him if this is where we come from:

Sí mijo, half of you is from this desert. 

I lick my lips, parched like the earth,
take my boots off then my dirty socks.

Stomp my feet to the beat of the Jarabe Tapatío,
digging deeper into the soil with each kick.

“What are you doing?” asks my grandfather.

I want to be a nopal, Papá. I want to grow.

So, he leaves me, then returns with a shovel,
carefully plants me into this weathered landscape.

Afterward, he kisses me goodbye with such strength,
before patting my soft head, and in his touch, I know:

I will be fine here. All will be fine.

The desert is mine if I want it, here I’ll learn how to grow.

And so, my grandfather begins the return journey alone,
the ground calls after him, but I stay quiet because I

I will be fine here. All will be fine. 

I am the true vine, and the desert is my gardener,
it’s mine to inherit because I am of both land and root.”

“Mis raíces” from At Least This I Know by Andrés N. Ordorica. Used with permission of the poet. Poem originally published by 404 Ink. All rights reserved.