Thursday, July 24, 2014

Inheritance from a sharecropper

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

The sponge

'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

And smile.

-       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. 

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