What inheritance could you possibly receive from a sharecropper?
I wrote the poem below on the eve of my trip to Mexico. My grandfather died at 102 while I was away for two years doing volunteer work in the inner city of Santiago, Chile and I will be visiting his grave for the first time next week.
I received the greatest inheritance from him and I invite you to share in the joy around this by reading this poem written in his honor.
Inheritance from a sharecropper
By Carlos Rodriguez
Dedicated to the memory of my grandfather Ezequiel Rodriguez (1910-2012)
Native of the rural areas surrounding the small town of San Julian, Jalisco, Mexico.
To you oh wrinkled one
Who surprised me even in death
‘I am going to heaven’
You told her
With a security that on the lips of some would seem arrogant
But on your lips oh simple sharecropper seemed well
It seemed surprising
Time and time again I have become used to
The eyes of those that believe that they are not worthy
The tired pupils of those that have bought into the lie
Forced to live as slaves
To think that they own nothing
Simply their forced energy to try to survive another day another month another year
Chased from their dreams
Forced to take their majestic Aztec drums retire them and replace them with
'Xihualacan compañeros ti paxalo ce María timiyehualotzan ipan tonantzin
Santa María Guadalupe'
‘Beats of drums echoing through history whispering for change’
Are stronger than chains of sponges
Becoming the underbelly of America
Your children have taught me to fear my gifts to protect me from those that destroyed theirs
I will break through the concrete of their chains
With the might of your hand on the hoe hard earth becoming soft
Giving way for the God that claims the earth and its fruits for the majestic project
Inheriting heaven to the poor
Push after push after push after push
Sweat and tears and joy and poetry and bread and coke and cigarettes
The hard earth will give in someday
‘I have seen the mountaintop!’; ‘the kingdom of God is at hand!’
Seeds planted seeds growing love spreading justice forming unbreakable roots
Your slow step always behind me in front of me beside me
Pointing the way to the Sun
You say ‘Today will be a good day to work the earth’
Walking with you
Becoming one with others
Thank you for teaching me to break through hard earth
- Carlos Rodriguez
Written on July 24th 2014
*The Nahuatl (Aztec Language) in the poem is a traditional Aztec song sung with drums in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.