Poems by Michael Angel Martin

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Cholina 

When my mother dies

I learn I never knew her.

But she told me two stories,

two girlhood miracles.

 

At ten she saves her family

from a crocodile stalking

in a river outside Managua

where they bathe.

 

She is on the banks,

no desire to wash that day.

I like to imagine she is dancing

among wild red macaws.

 

Then a woman the size

of a votive candle, draped

in the colors of wild macaws,

appears on a branch up in a tree.

 

Never afraid,

my mother only shouts

so that the bathers might come out

to greet The Visitor.

 

Which they do,

gliding out from the river,

one by one, dizzy

with water-play and sunlight.

 

When the last cousin

looks back and notices

a crocodile surface and stir,

everyone is relieved.

 

The Visitor then lifts up

through the leaves, her colors

flushing with sky until she’s gone.

It was a kind of assumption.

 

The second story lacks

the detail of the first. At thirteen,

my mother falls off a horse.

Her spine should have snapped.

 

That same spine

finally kills her in the end,

at forty-six—

amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

 

On the day she tells

these stories, she thanks The Visitor,

whom she believes keeps logs

of God’s unfinished business.

 

She also thanks

The Visitor for granting her

the years she got to move,

                             breathe,

                             speak,

                             eat.

 

And more than that, of course,

she slurs

through her half-palsied face,

meaning me.


 

Last Year 

In January, we relocate

the sickbed into the sunroom

because we can no longer

help my mother elsewhere.

Later a silver finch zips

through the open screen door

and spirals around bursting

with a small but unruly anthem.

After hopping from wicker chair

to china case, it stages a sunlit

display of shadow puppetry

from within a lampshade,

before tumbling out to puff

its chest atop the metropolis

of medicine bottles at bedside.

My mother has had enough.

Closing her eyes, she shoos

the silver finch away.

She did not get to see

the bird lift springlike

into the chill of December. 


 

Pigeons

Today I learned to love the pigeon.

I love them perched fat on fences,

Cooing like purple-hatted women

Who in the depths of their senescence

Become filled with revealed religion.

 

I watch one waddle towards a puddle

Busy with birds stiff with brighter colors

Sipping daintily around sludge bubbles.

Then her greyness plunges into the gutter.

They disperse. She bathes and chuckles.

 

When an empty-handed curmudgeon

Plops himself on their cherished park bench,

They had planned for their revenge––

His bottom now plastered with excrement.

Today I learned to love the pigeon.

 


About the author :

Michael Angel Martín was born and raised in Miami, FL. His interests include stringed musical instruments, Santos, and mall food. His poems and reviews can be found in or are forthcoming in Dappled Things, Anglican Theological Review, Apogee/Perigee, The Offbeat, Green Mountains Review, Saint Katherine Review, The Mondegreen, Pilgrim, Presence, Jai-Alai and elsewhere.

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