Heroes, Villains, Clouds

General Santa Anna

years after losing his leg

to the French at the battle

of Veracruz had his leg dug up

and reburied with full

military honors. To salvos,

poetry recitals, and touching

speeches, Santa Anna wept

as they lowered his limb

encased in a crystal container

into the Earth. Weeping

so softly he transformed

into wind. His uniform,

with its swaying tassels,

left abandoned in a chair.

Today, there is not a single cloud

in the sky. They have all been buried

in the fields beside the fattening

crops. Given time the clouds will grow

into the heroes and villains of another

generation. Heroes and villains born

in towns much like the one

I am walking through;

where a young man stands

before the baker’s daughter,

his hat held in his hands,

and a butcher scrubs blood

off rubber aprons and gloves; blood

and white foam mixing

in the street gutter a drunk

inadvertently steps in, his barefoot

caked in mud. En la calle San

Sebastián where statues keep vigil

of pigeons and a shattered glass bottle

contemplates the day. I could say

I am map of what we were;

a thousand years condensed

into a breath. How between

each joint in my body

lies a space as dark and cold

as the soil in a field of grass

where the bodies of soldiers lay,

their eyes reflecting the sky.

Place your ear to my chest

and listen—

the field of grass

rippled by wind.

Andrew Navarro is a Mexican-American poet who lives in Southern California. He received his MFA from the University of California Riverside's Low-Residency Program, and works as a history teacher in the Inland Empire. His work appears in ZYZZYVA, Poet Lore, Air/Light, and Michigan Quarterly Review. He lives with his wife and two daughters.