Mi Madre

You ride
the silent subway
from Spanish Harlem to the Bronx at 4 a.m.
fists pound on the empty seat beside you
face-hardened like a solider in combat
lips locked tight

Pitch-dark windows stare back into your face of acrimony
restless sighs, you say
I odio mi trabajo
homeless man watch
as you highlight scriptures
psalm 23
clutch your crucifix
towards your remaining feeble breast
head shaved
you're high
too delirious to speak
too at peace with worry for mere laughter
too broken to fly on December 24th

Rigid winter morning
calves swollen
lips chapped
body recovering from a night spent vomiting
listening to Celia Cruz
Quimbara quimbara quma quimbambá Quimbara quimbara quma quimbambá
we drank ourselves under the table
on East 137 street
sons and daughter fight for space on the tenth floor
Papi breaks up the fight

Blood pressure heightens
your hands
too sore to grab any railings,
too painful to conquer winter
mourning on your arthritis
arrive at the factory on Commerce Ave.
greeted by hombres
Mi Madre
they do not appreciate you