Voices of Free Minds: “Christmas 2010” by Lorena Elias

I grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I’ve lived half my life in Mexico and half of it here. This poem was my way to describe being in two worlds at the same time, wondering what my life would be like if I had stayed. Before Free Minds, I never used to read.

Now I love reading every day—novels, poetry, newspapers, magazines. I read with my kids. I’m setting an example for them.

Christmas 2010

Anything I can forget, but not the smell!
I smell the rain in the sweet gushes of wind.
I smell the hope of the homeless children in the plaza selling gum.
I smell the approach of years to come, on every step and every
moment, when my dad at the left and I at the right sustained my
grandfather’s steps from the chapel to his room.
I smell the delicate fragrance of the flowers at the market, their vivid
colors and the happiness of those who receive them.
I smell the surprise of a foreign group of people, their enchanted reaction, their joy and the advantage of not being locals.
I smell the spirits and the souls in the cemetery wrapped in their death scent around the visitors and the aroma of agonizing candles and rotten flowers.
I smell the dreams of young naïve women who have been abandoned at the age of eighteen in sweet decadent promises by invisible husbands. I smell the humid dirt on the faces of their three hungry children.
I smell the glorious past of the elderly woman sitting on the sidewalk,
Her white head covered with a black shawl, her right hand extended
Towards the pedestrians in hope of a coin.
I smell my sister’s premature loneliness after consecutive days of pleasant conversations during breakfast and supper, when I hugged her translucent body before saying goodbye.
I smell Maria’s life in there! Her hollow room welcomed me into its sour and crowded nest, the incandescent light, it was seven-thirty in the evening and her husband was there…
Her two little children too, they rested motionless sleeping on small thin mattresses on the filthy sky-blue floor which is hidden under an immense cloud
of black and brown.
I smell my imminent time if I would have stayed seventeen years ago.
Running down the street splashing barefoot on the rain, feeling as light and white as a swan’s feather…the cake and the hot cocoa, splashing, dreaming, looking and smelling.

Lorena Elias is a 2011 alumna of the Free Minds Project–a college course in the humanities for disadvantaged adults. Read more in “Minds on Fire” in the January|February Alcalde, and read more student writing here.


Tags: , ,


1 Comment

Post a Comment