201: Freeway 280
by Lorna Dee Cervantes
Las casitas near the gray cannery,
nestled amid wild abrazos of climbing roses
and man-high red geraniums
are gone now. The freeway conceals it
all beneath a raised scar.
But under the fake windsounds of the open lanes,
in the abandoned lots below, new grasses sprout,
wild mustard remembers, old gardens
come back stronger than they were,
trees have been left standing in their yards.
Albaricoqueros, cerezos, nogales . . .
Viejitas come here with paper bags to gather greens.
Espinaca, verdolagas, yerbabuena . . .
I scramble over the wire fence
that would have kept me out.
Once, I wanted out, wanted the rigid lanes
to take me to a place without sun,
without the smell of tomatoes burning
on swing shift in the greasy summer air.
Maybe it's here
en los campos extraños de esta ciudad
where I'll find it, that part of me
like a corpse
or a loose seed.
"Freeway 280" by Lorna Dee Cervantes, from EMPLUMADA by Lorna Dee Cervantes, copyright © 1981 University of Pittsburgh Press. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.