What Color Is Mexico?

What Color Is Mexico?


I remember it was yellow on my world map,

so I always pictured it so and it worked with

my images of deserts, sombreros, and corn.

Is it scarlet, like the bougainvillea cascading

over the cracked whitewashed wall or

crimson of her grandfather’s blood shed

generations ago fighting the haciendas

with Zapata?

Or is it deep green like the avocados in the market,

the nopal cactus in the desert, or the innumerable

heads of lettuce and cabbage Téo picks all day

in the sun to collect enough pesos to feed his children?

It could be the inky braid of theHuíchol muchacha

who sells raspberries and cactus fruit in the market

or the black heart of the drug runner who no longer

cares for his brothers and is afraid of his boss

who kicks the street dog with his shiny black boots.

It could be the incremental shades of coffee brown

in the faces of these Mesoamerican children

of Cortez and Montezuma as they help their families

slice and lug and sweep and laugh together

or the honey-colored tequila the Tapatios sip

in the cantina as the youngniñotries to complete

his math homework in the kitchen.

México blinds us with vibrant primary hues:

the casas, the senoritas, the hot blood, the birds of paradise,

the hibiscus, and the rainbows over the Sierra Mádres

that turn the brown heads towards the rich beauty,

away from despair and hunger.

§—William Frayer—§


Ojo Del Lago
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