Love is a Weed

Our Garden, Chicago

Our Garden, Chicago

Twelve years ago Felipe and I were married in a garden we revived from a syringe strew lot, next to our Humboldt Park apartment in Chicago. I didn’t realize we were building a personal metaphor with that plot.
We have adapted weed nature to survive in México, and sometimes it certainly feels that we have been pulled and burned and carted away. Still we stay and flourish. Tenacious as weeds, our flowers. This week I recite the fitting poems read during our wedding service.

I read To Dorothy at our wedding.

I read To Dorothy at our wedding.

To Dorothy, By Marvin Bell.
Love is a Weed, by Paul Casella.
Happy Anniversary my love.

My Secret Weapon

Photo unrelated to the post. I just wanted to give you all a wave. :)

Photo unrelated to the post. I just wanted to give you all a wave. 🙂

 

Perhaps you have wondered where I come up with poems to recite each week.
I have a decent poetry collection but only half of it is here in Mexico, and not all of my favorite poems are appropriate for the project. Though you can read tons of poems on line, it takes time to find the right poem, and time on line is something I don’t have, so I was a little concerned when I began, how I would fuel the project.
My friend Larry gave me an Ipad and showed me the wonders of the app store, where I found Poetry Magazine’s free app. It is fantastic. It’s loaded with poetry from many of my favorite poets and even more I’d never read.
Poems can be searched by theme in addition to poet, title and first line. New poems download automatically, and you can download the pdf of the magazine for free also.
I have Poetry Magazine to thank for my new acquaintance with, Jane Hirschfield, Kevin Young, Juan Felipe Herrera and the author of today’s poem, Todd Boss.(Check out this link, it’s his word press site, he’s also an artist and a filmmaker.)
There are 13 of Mr. Boss’s poems in the app. I found his style unique and intriguing– his form, and sense of rhyme, the way he uses the title of his poem as the first line. He reminds me a bit of Emily Dickenson. This week I recite, the charming– The World is in Pencil, by Todd Boss.
If you are a poetry lover, I highly recommend Poetry Magazine’s free app, it’s a treasure.

Ps. I hope the photo and the links work, forgive me if they’re not, I will fix it soon. Everything “looks” fine, but I’m getting mixed and strange signal from my campo office today. Thank you for you patience. paz, Abby

To Kill a Rattlesnake

Abby and Felipe 

I fell in love with Felipe for his stories. Years later I realized, as I listened to his mother, whose stories have not been filtered through the knowledge of letters, and are redolent with place, where he’d learned his craft.

We met in Chicago eighteen years ago. He was undocumented, working as a bus boy, I was a server in the same restaurant. As I got to know him, he told me stories of his home town, a tiny village in the Sierra Huautla mountains. To an untraveled Midwestern girl, stories tinged in accent, spilling from a beautiful man lips, made La Tigra sound like the most exotic place on earth.

As he drug the anaconda out from under the mulberry bush last week, I laughed as I thought of my past fascination and naiveté regarding La Tigra. I recalled this story he’d told me many years ago, and I asked him to speak it to me again. I didn’t realize until this telling that the events had taken place where we now live.

The remains of the huamuchil.

The remains of the huamuchil.

 

When I was a little boy, about six years old, my family was hired to clean peanuts here at the Piedra Rahada, it was owed by my brother -in -law at the time. We were all there, under the big huamuchil that died last year, it was a very old tree even then.

My brothers were bringing the plants from the field and my mother and sisters and I beat the roots with a mocho, the back of a broken off machete, to knock off the peanuts. At that time you could still drink the water from the creeks, when we ran out, it was my job to fetch more.

I went  to the place where there is water all year round, between the roots of the big amates and parota, you know the place, all the animals drink there still. As I walked up the creek bed I saw a big rattle snake on its way for water too. I backed away and when there was some room between us I called to my family, “There’s a really big snake down here!” It was about the size of the masaquata I killed today.

My mother came down into the creek bed and when she saw the snake, even though I was pretty spooked by it, she said “Oh that’s not so big! This is what you do. ” She began to look for a big branch.  “The stick has to be dry”, she said, “because the venom is like electricity and can travel up a green branch.”

She chopped off a dead branch with her machete. (She still always carries a machete.)She walked up along side the snake, who didn’t even turn to look at her, and smacked it on the head. Dead. She picked it up, went back to work, and I went for water.

Where the wild animals drink.

Where the wild animals drink.

Soco butchered the snake. The meat was sold as a cancer remedy, and the skin for decoration, unless it was damaged. Damaged skin was used as a preventive medicine for chicken plague. She kept a small piece in their water dish to help keep them from falling prey to illness.

I wondered how Felipe felt about his mother pish-shawing his fear of a large venomous snake.

“I felt good,” he told me,” my mother always made me feel safe, like I could take care of things myself, that there was nothing to fear.”

I can’t think of a better testament to good parenting.

He still talks good story.

More Medical Mayhem!

Selfie with Nebulizer and Fake Lips

Selfie with Nebulizer and Fake Lips

The bad news: I am behind in my recitations because I’ve been missing my walks due to severe asthma and allergies. Even talking caused coughing fits, and weirdly, I can’t memorize without speaking the poem aloud.
The good news! It provides another opportunity to tell you about México Medical System .
In my usual, let’s wait until I’m almost dead before we go the doctor mode(I think I channel some stubborn old Midwestern ancestor ) Felipe and I ended up on a forty minute, midnight mad dash to emergency on Sunday. A fleeting moment of romance pierced the terror as my gallant husband carried me to the car; for I assure you it is terrifying not being able to breathe with the hospital over an hour away.
Of course, there was a huge storm threatening, relampago flashing, tronar crashing as if the devil was chasing us to drag me to hell, and of course, the bocho had a dangerously low tire and an ominous screeching emanating from the drive shaft. I was in my mismatched pajamas, unable to breathe when seated, I knelt in the bocho’s filthy floor (it had recently been full of chicken shit , don’t ask)) with my head handing out the window like a gasping golden retriever. I didn’t even know if Felipe knew where we were going. Fortunately, he did.
We went to clinic I visited when I needed treatment for fibroid tumors . It’s open for overnight emergency services, and is only forty minutes away. I was on an IV(the most painfully administered one I’ve ever received, bless her heart) in let’s say… seven minutes from curb to faint inducing needle insertion(and I am not a baby about these things folks ). Approximately twenty years ago, I visited Northwestern University Emergency room for a high fever. If memory serves, I waited two hours on the floor(again, unable to sit up) of the waiting room for a bed in the hall way.

Just for fun, let’s compare of the cost of these two visits.
México— Emergency Sunday 1am private clinic visit.
40 pesos about $3.75

U. S. A. —Entering the Northwestern University Emergency room.
$650.00

México—Treatment, including multiple check-ins from a very nice female doctor, five medications and prescriptions for two medications they didn’t have on hand.
860 pesos about 90 bucks

U.S.A. —I don’t recall the exact treatment at Northwestern but there was blood work, a potassium shot, and intravenous fluids. The doctor was certain I was bulimic; I was not. He was nice about it, but its unnerving to have your doctor trying to wheedle a confession to a psychological disordered out of you when you’re delirious from fever.
The cost was around 1500 dollars; I think I was there about 5 hours. Fortunately, I had insurance. My out of pocket cost was aprox. 600 dollars.

The day after our hell-bent trip to Maternidad de Paris(tres chic), I visited La Tigra’s free clinic. They supplied me with the prescriptions I wasn’t able to get the night before and loaned me a nebulizer, all free of charge.

Felipe thinks it’s ridiculous to compare the U.S. and México s medical systems because the economies are completely different. Example: Minimum wage in Chicago 8.25 an HOUR, Minimum wage in Morelos 65 peso(about five bucks) A DAY, he argues. Not to mention the difference in services available at Midwestern and Maternidad de Paris. I argue( illogically) “Yeah, but we still pay $5.75 for a gallon of gas in México!”(I just like to throw that in when I have a chance.)
Still, I find it questionable that the charge for something as simple as entering the building should be so disparate: three dollars and seventy five cents…opposed to six hundred and fifty dollars. Really?
Am I an economics dolt, or do you agree it’s unreasonable to charge a person 650 dollars to lay in the floor for two hours?

P.S. Just so you don’t think I think everything about México Medical system is peachy, I did decide against the karate chop procedure suggested at my first visit to de Paris. Instead, I applied Edgar Cayce’s castor oil pack remedy , and the Depo-Provera(gasp!) they proscribed. I no longer suffer symptoms from the tumors.