Honorable Mention: “For the Singer at the First American Encounter Against Impunity, Morelia, Chiapas Mexico” by Katherine DeGrandpre

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This poem tells a story, capturing the heart of a people and a time in history with soulful elegance.  It couples striking imagery with repetition that builds meaning throughout the final stanza.” 

~Vol 5, Poetry Board 

“For the Singer at the First American Encounter Against Impunity, Morelia, Chiapas Mexico” by Katherine DeGrandpre

You had a voice so big I couldn’t hold it on my back.

You opened your mouth and brought down torrents of rain and corn

and you stood before us singing of raw voices and cracked hands.

You sang to me, compañera, Zapatista, and a baby with the face of Mexico grew in my womb

and my body strained with your vocal chords, arms pulling me up a full, steep moutain

to work the milpa and carry the baskets of meal I held on my back.

Your voice seeped into my skin in the universal language of eyes and song

and I remembered the rocks used to build this road, inplausable, breaking my white shoulders.

I heard the cry of picks, and people singing with raw voices and cracked hands.

I learned the meaning of solidarity, the earth leathered man next to me crying too

and I was a child humming comfort to my compliant American parents,

with a voice so big we couldn’t hold it on our backs.

And hands and throats around me tightened

and bodies shook like clear cut trees and so many lost generations,

and we quietly sang with raw voices, and cracked hands.

And as your keening died away, my hands became those of a child, reaching for yours

and I awoke deep in the exhaling mountains, surrounded by wide eyes like dense wood

and your song was so big I didn’t hold it on my back

but in my throat, yours and mine, singing raw voices, cracked hands.

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