No Longer a Myth (La Llorona) By Reed Bobroff and Olivia Gatwood

(O = Olivia, R=Reed)

BOTH --          Our abuelas used to tell me of La Llorona, the Wailing Woman.
R --                  She grew up in a Mexican town, now gone with the dust of history.
O --                  Maria was coveted by all of her village’s men.
BOTH --          They thought of how palm warm tortillas dissolved in their mouths like words on end of tongue,
O --                  how her embrace dusk breeze drifted away from their fingertips.

BOTH --          It was Fernando who won her,
R --                  knowing just the right pressure in conversation  and embrace
BOTH --          to make her blush pink as evening.

O --                  The next day she brought him tortillas.She placed the flour blanket over his tongue
and soon they we writhing like kneaded dough
R --                  and their children rose from her oven.
But not long after, Fernando no longer ate Maria’s tortillas or coveted her embrace,

BOTH --          Maria smelled perfume on her husband and laundered in the river,
cleansing clothes until her the river water ran red.

O --                  The next laundry day: she pushed her children’s tiny skulls
under the water,
BOTH --          She washed their pale bodies down a river of abandonment,
O --                  Their bodies were found but not Maria

R --                  Soon after and when night covered sky,                                     0 – (wailing)
the townspeople said Maria’s ghost would rise                         “Mis hijos,
and come weeping along the riverbank                          Mis hijos…”

                        She was no longer Maria.
She was La Llorona, the Weeping Woman.

BOTH --          Today, La Llorona walks the streets
Our abuelas are too scared to tell us  of her new form
O --                  the white lady, no longer condemned to ditch banks
or the tongues of our elders,
BOTH --          now wandering to cement walkways
R --                  and newspaper headlines.

BOTH             She still takes children.

R --                  Nathan Wetherfield walked the dark hallways of addiction.
It was beautiful when the diacetylmorphine swam through his veins.
While the sunshine hid behind the clouds,
until he no longer saw light.
His father never heard La Llorona’s cries.

O --                  in a hospital emergency room.
La Llorona watched along with Steve Paternoster
as his 16-year-old daughter fought for her last few breaths
the nurses pulled off her oxygen and upped her dosage
so that she would birth into the afterlife peacefully.

B --                  Outside, in the deep blue night, the nurses and orderlies
swore they heard
A woman’s anguished cries.

O –                  Mis hijos… Mis hijos

BOTH --          La Llorona is no longer a myth
She’s being bought and sold on the streets.
O --                  She prances away from the dirt rough ditch banks
and cement mounted arroyos
BOTH --          into the outstretched arms of lost children she believes are hers.
O --                  It’s no longer a legend when the 2 overdoses
in 2006 turn to 17 by 2009.

BOTH --          La Llorona beckons to them, to us with arms open like a crucifix
Smiles as she begins to cry into them:
O --                  “Mis Hijos! Mis Hijos!”

R --                  Her cottonwood branch body entangled                         O - wailing
around their soon to be corpse,                “Mis hijos, mis hijos”
Draining life fluid and lacing it with hers.
Their eyes glaze over
BOTH --          and they nod into her addictive fingertips as she drowns the
in her tattered white robe until the myth is the last thing they

R --                  In Albuquerque, NM
O --                  In April 2010
BOTH --          Nathan Wetherfield and Haley Paternoster died of a heroin

                        The black tar sat in her sock drawer like coal in a child’s stocking
next to Sponge Bob and Barbie and branched through his veins
O --                  like thunderstorms on spring days that steal the summer away.

BOTH --          La Llorona is real.
The kids are hearing her cries:
B --                  Following the whines of banshee mother
R --                  into goat head thorn patches
O --                  or bathroom stalls,
R --                  Inviting her into their open embrace.

BOTH --          La Llorona’s hand in tightly encircled around their limbs.
She is weeping,
R --                  Another lost child
BOTH --          floating down the creek , face first
into the desolate tributary
swallowing our state.

O --                  Don’t cover your ears.
R --                  Listen.
O --                  Mis Hijos… mis hijos…

B --                  And warn the children.

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