Friday, August 2, 2013

El Gallo

El que le cantó a San Pedro no le volverá a cantar.

A smile on a birthday
Made from small hands
This is what he likes
This is what I'll make
She had led herself to believe

He had returned from the south
Another escape into himself
Where they roam the streets as equals
Neither creature paying heed

When he unwrapped her gift
And first fell in love with her art
Pinched and formed with careful manner
Baked and painted from a memory

A striking vessel crafted with love
A handsome beast to hold the tools
Of a writer's stock in trade

A ceramic rooster as a pen holder
One foot in height and at least two pounds in weight
A desk's new companion created from one heart
Accepted with hugs and tears from another

Proudly kept watch of post it notes and paper clips
On a government desk up north
The focal point of conversations
Of a father and daughter's time

That token of a moment, now so long ago
Next found refuge in the country
Being useful holding country things
like can openers and scissors

For the pens had run dry
And the father had run ahead
To a bout of sorrowful tomorrows
As the girl was left to grow alone

Rescued from a dusty box
In someone else's cellar
The rooster had another flight to make
And a new desk to call home

Filled once again with blood to write
It had survived throughout the years
Now sharing space with someone's shells
A father writes, I'm sorry,
Before he writes, I love you.


– Mark Butkus


El Gallo is the first in a series of poems based on each of the cards in the Mexican children's game Loteria. Correctly titled; 1 El Gallo the poem will appear in the forthcoming, Dengue and Other Feverish Poems by Mark Butkus. The Spanish text that serves as the photo caption to El Gallo is a folkloric riddle that helps children identify the card from the 53 other cards in a Loteria deck.