Poquito Alla

by: Carmen Tafolla
Posted: April 22, 2021

This hand? 

This hand, he says, 

It was an accident. 

You do not understand 

Poquito aquí. Poquito allá, 

that’s how Dios meant it, ves, to be. 

It doesn’t bother me too much 

In fact, it gives me less to work about. 

Less people who will trust their broken chairs to me. 

Yet I can still these roses plant 

Like that one standing at your feet 

Las Siete Hermanas, for they always bloom together 

like sweet sisters, seven in each bunch. 

and I can still make chocolate, stirring strong, 

the fingers do not slow me down 

these two, nor this one sewed back on. 

It’s funny, don’t you think, 

How in those many years at Kelly Field 

or even in the war, Dios solo sabe, so many 

around me dead, or legs or arms just floating off to sea 

but I came back—it must have been my mother’s prayers— 

the only thing the worse for it my teeth. 

The Navy took us perfect, sent us back a mess. 

And yet, I had so much 

aún every limb and digit there 

my whole life full 

and so I can’t complain. 

This hand still does so much 

for me—why just today 

I planted ten small seeds 

—cilantro for Mamá, 

that woman loves it even in her beans— 

and pressed the earth down on them soft 

like her soft finger when she caresses me. 

And picked the eggs out for my sisters 

y sus nietos. They taste different fresh 

like this, las de las tiendas no comparan. 

Oh, but you want to know what happened? 

Well, it’s not too bad, nomás que 

Chuy’s neighbor still won’t talk to me 

goes way around the grocery store 

when he runs into me 

I guess he’s scared to see. 

Some people, sometimes, son así, 

Se siente mal, because he was the one who said, 

Reach down in there for me and git that wrench, 

And then he flipped the switch too soon 

Ya casi era tiempo de salir 

I’d worked for him all day and he 

was eager to pay up, clean up, go home 

and didn’t wait to see that it was out. 

Así, se acabó. 

The doctors sewed this one back on 

aunque los que no estan 

molestan menos que este aquí. 

Too bad it bothers him so much. 

I still do all I used to ’cept for 

Playing the guitar and carving wood. 

The rest I do just fine, tho’ maybe not as good. 

Y el pobre always uncomfortable with Mexicans 

Y ahora peor. 

Forgot to pay me for that day 

or maybe scared to send the cash 

for fear I’d ask for more. 

Well, that’s okay, this hand still knows 

to saludar, shake hands, y abrazar 

and only yesterday, my baby grandson stood up 

solito, holding on to these good fingers here. 

Derecho, fuerte, unafraid. 

Poquito aquí, poquito allá. 

The author of more than 30 books, her work appears internationally in high school and university textbooks, newspapers, journals and magazines, and elementary school readers. Named State Poet Laureate of Texas in 2015, she is currently the President of the Texas Institute of Letters. Tafolla had also served from 2012-2014 as the first City Poet Laureate of San Antonio and presented at more than 300 schools, universities, professional conferences, and community arts centers in her two-year tenure.
The current President of the Texas Institute of Letters, Tafolla is at work on the biography of noted 1930s civil rights organizer Emma Tenayuca.
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