Self-Portrait as Semilla


leave it to a seed
——to grow a man,
—————-——–planted in a habitat
——of concrete & commotion.
in rain it rivers.  
——rises the sidewalk cracks. 
—————-——–dammed at every corner—
——gift to the gutter. 

the boon of its fruit
——is the broken sky—
—————-——–breather of the coughs 
——of exhaustive traffic.
let its brown shell sail. 
——beginnings of leaves
—————-——–plume out green smoke  
——from the blossomed bullet casing. 

now the gardener,
——call him Father,
—————-——–holds down a plot 
——of earth.  

the seed—a possibility
——spun in his barked palms,
—————-——–is smuggled across Los Angeles 
——in nocturnal flights, seeking  
—————-——–asylum from rent. 

then a bird,
——call her Mother,
—————-——–migrates it in her feathers. 
——the seed pressed to shape  
—————-——–by her transitory nests. 

her call wakes
——its hard exterior,
—————-——–nourishing the softness 

let the Father bury
——his fingers  
—————-——–into the skin of it 
——leaving whorls on its flesh. 
let the Mother  

——sing the seed
—————-——–songs of home—
——wrap it in her wings
—————-——–like a rebozo. 

together they till a family
——out of shadows.
—————-——–a country gone to fallow. 

a country they greened. 

let the seed be
——a refugee in a valley of fire—
—————-——–it will bring roots
——& take root. 

maíz sharpened
——by the whet gaze
—————-——–of streetlights. 

fledgling branches
——honed in dust storms,
—————-——–crawl up the curbs 
——like hands that ivy
—————-——–for the moon. 

each little piece of nothing
——sieving through fingers,
—————-——–as if grasping for footing 

were the same as gasping
——for water.  

quench it
——in cement & sunlight. 
—————-——–feed it shade 
——of the alley.  
——bury it in a city—  

watch us bloom. 

JOEL SALCIDO was born in the San Fernando Valley & raised in West Phoenix. He is the son of Mexican immigrants, a first-generation college graduate, a husband, & father of three sons. He characterizes his work as hood magical realism—a navigation between the grief & ecstasy of place & experience. Joel holds an MFA in Poetry from Arizona State University.