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Father’s Memory of a Mexican Mining Camp by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

Father’s Memory of a Mexican Mining Camp

by Cindy Williams Gutiérrez

from The Small Claim of Bones, 2014


Softly, it always began softly. Then slowly swelled to a wail. Men’s voices. Maybe seven of them

up on the hill behind the house.


A breeze through the window stirred the curtains like clouds. I was five, or six. Around midnight it would start—such a doleful sound.


They were drinking. It was Saturday and the mines were closed. Their song

would wake me—their longing. It was a language I knew,


though I couldn’t make out the words. But the music—that was theirs. Some ancient secret. A string of notes piecing together who they once were.


My twin brother slept soundly.

I was alone with this mystery. It haunts me even now, this lament to their gods. If flowers were songs—


if the marigold sang, it would mourn like this. I imagine them still sitting on a dark hill chanting their dirge. Some nights I wake—


I hear them. I don’t remember my dreams, so I dutifully make my way to the window. All I see are clouds and mist.




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