Saturday, October 30, 2010

California Magdeline

California Magdeline

On the road to Delano
in the late 1960s
the atheist’s daughter
(a tarnished young woman)
ponders this question:
“What was his name
on the road to Damascus
Saul something or other?”

A curious thought
for a wanton blasphemer
heading north on the highway,
up from Los Angeles,
over the Grapevine
in a blue station wagon
covered with slogans:
“Viva la causa!”

Raised as a cynic,
transgressor, irreverent,
she is secretly lusting
to give herself up to
someone who is worthy,
a cause that has meaning.
She’s a penitent,
this journey a pilgrimage.

Not Jesus her Savior
but a poor campesino
Cesar Chavez, the leader
of the Farm Workers’ Movement.
San Joaquin is her Holy Land,
Delano is Calvary:
redemption for bad girls,
salvation for gringos.

“And what was her name?”
(comes another odd question)
“The harlot who washed him,
sponged dirt from his ankles,
she who was pardoned
for all indiscretions,
the sins of the fathers
no longer her burden?”

Back home from Delano
in the late 1960s
comes the atheist’s daughter
who’s paid homage to Cesar
(his love like a mother’s).
Now bathed in the aura
of that pacifist martyr,
she’s become a believer.

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