12.12.12 Zapata Mexico Alice Walker photo1 by G. Kaleo Larsen12.12.12 Zapata Mexico Alice Walker photo2 by G. Kaleo Larsen

MY 12-12-12

ZAPATA, MEXICO

They told us we must be ready
before dawn
and just at dawn
Manuel came for us.
We rode in silence as the day
was breaking
to join
a slowly building crowd
of people
on the outskirts
of Zapata.
There are so many Zapatas in Mexico.
And many Villas
it must be said.
But there we were

12.12.12 Zapata Mexico Alice Walker photo 3 by G. Kaleo Larsen

a small contingent
waiting for Her.
A nun showed up first,
of course,
this being hundreds of years
later.
I liked her though; she led us
in song.
And soon, sure enough,
She appeared.
Brown, slender,
somber and very young,
maybe still languid
from interrupted sleep,
this year’s incarnation
of La Virgen de Guadalupe

12.12.12 Zapata Mexico Alice Walker photo 4 by G. Kaleo Larsen

Shivering a bit
in the morning chill
she wrapped her green mantle
that tended to slip
more securely over her
loving head.  With the help
of many hands,
her neighbors
and friends,
she climbed into the back
of the waiting
pick-up truck.
I could have started weeping
right there.  But no, I held on.
Though happiness and love welled up
behind my eyelids.
They have survived, I thought.
As the marchers, and we,
my companion and me,
fell in
behind the truck.

Our nun singing and chanting
and the two of us
humming the parts
of litany
(most of them)
we did not understand.
Hail Mary, Full of Grace
Pray for us now
and in the hour
of our death.
The only thing
we thoroughly understood
chanted
and hoped
would also, at death,
apply to us!

We began to walk.
It was only three or four miles.
We crossed a river.
We saw early morning dairymen
in the brush
milking cows.
We saw fields and hills
of this most beautiful part
of beautiful Mexico.

The Virgen led us
faithfully.  So young, so brown, so long of dark hair.
Her face only twice breaking into a smile
that showered us, walking behind Her,
with Her radiance.

The sun appeared only briefly,
the day was still, overcast
and calm.

Yes, we ended up,
the truck and all
of us, outside a Convent
where the nun and the priest
were waiting.
But the ceremony
linking the Virgens
Mary and La Señora de Guadalupe
occurred
in Nature
outside
beneath sheltering trees.
And this also
moved my heart.  For I am more
at home with the other Her,
the one who creates
the out of doors
so casually.

12.12.12 Zapata Mexico Alice Walker photo 5 by G. Kaleo Larsen

We sang, and hummed,
stood and sat
(chairs materializing behind us
out of thin air)
until the last song,
then turned
to retrace our steps.
Sore in thigh and foot
but fulfilled.

Half-way back
we re-crossed the river
which
unusual for this time of year
was full of water.
I sat, fanning myself, on the railing of the bridge.

I am inside the picture now,
I said to my companion
who feared I might fall.
I did not care, really,
but assured
him
I am more careful of my life
than it might appear.  I recognize
the gift it is to me; out of gratitude
I protect it.
Yes, I am inside the picture now,
not just looking
at the painting.
And I thought of this
while trudging down a once unknown road
in the heart of Mexico
that I now know very well;
feeling joy and relief
to see another Virgen
my Mexican sister
Yolanda
speeding toward us
in her new Pathfinder
coming with cool water
and delicious
fresh papaya
to rescue all of us
and, smiling, deliver me.



Copyright © by Alice Walker (poem)
Copyright © by G. Kaleo Larson (photographs)