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Today's Meditation is Battlegrounds written by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo who tells us her important story.

 

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MEDITATION 154: Battlegrounds (Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo)

 

Battlegrounds

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

Gettysburg National Military Park

Motorcycles and white tour vans speed

between behemoth granite shafts, shove

my body by their force, leave me roadside

and wandering fields. Little is funny

when you’re Chicana and walking

a Civil War site not meant for walking.

Regardless, I ask park rangers and guides

for stories on Mexicans soldiers,

 

receive shrugs. No evidence in statues

or statistics. In the cemetery, not one

Spanish name. I’m alone in the wine shop.

It’s the same in the post office, the market,

the antique shop with KKK books on display.

In the peach orchard, I prepare a séance,

sit cross-legged in grass, and hold

a smoky quartz to the setting sun.

 

I invite the unseen to speak. So many dead,

it’s said Confederate soldiers were left to rot.

In war, not all bodies are returned home

nor graves marked. I Google “Mexicans

in the Civil War” and uncover layers

to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo

and Cinco de Mayo. This is how I meet

ancestors for the first time, heroes

 

this country decorates in clownish sombreros

and fake mustaches, dishonors for fighting

European empire on shared American land

Power & Money dictate can’t be shared.

Years before this, carrying water gallons

up an Arizona mountain ridge to replenish

supplies in a pass known as “Dead Man’s,”

I wrote messages on bottles to the living,

 

scanned Sonoran canyons for the lost,

and knew too many would not be found.

A black Sharpie Virgen drawn on hot plastic

became a prayer: may the next officer halt

before cracking her face beneath his boot,

spilling life on to dirt. No, nothing’s funny

when you’re brown in a country you’re taught

isn’t yours, your dead don’t count.

 

Copyright © 2020 by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 21, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

 

 

“A first draft of this poem was written while at Gettysburg National Military Park as the ‘Poet in the Park’ resident in partnership with National Parks Arts Foundation and the Poetry Foundation from September 15, 2017-October 7, 2017. Still early in the Trump Administration, NFL protests and the Las Vegas mass shooting were major news stories during my stay, as well as the ongoing debates over Civil War monuments, reignited by the Charlottesville protests and the murder of Heather D. Heyer, on August 12, 2017, by a white supremacist. Tragically, Black, Indigenous, Brown, Immigrant, Trans, and queer bodies continue to be targeted and killed by the current administration, but this poem believes another existence is possible.”

—Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

 

 

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo is the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications, 2016). The daughter of Mexican immigrants, she is cofounder and director of Women Who Submit.

 

 

 

Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge

(Sundress Publications, 2016)