Migratory Birds

you were born
to gypsies
though you didn’t
want to be
every spring
when orange blossom’s
perfume
filled the air
your world was packed
into a few bundles
then your family
was off
living in tents
trailers
dirt floor shacks
you were born
to nomads
though you didn’t
want to be
longed to live with
the settled and the straight
work in the five and dime
go to school
play tennis
but every time
you found a friend
it was time to go
another town
another round
in a world
that made
you dizzy

you were born
to migrants
though you didn’t
want to be
from Texas to Illinois
living a blur
out a car window
roads endless
as fields of crops
to be picked
by the piece
never making enough
to eat
let alone
for the trip back home
pleading for the
traveling to stop
words in the wind
whooshing by ears
of the gypsy king

you were born
to wanderers
though you didn’t
want to be
when you got the chance
you planted
yourself
deep
in concrete
and steel
to make sure
you or your
offspring
wouldn’t
branch out
too far
from home
you were
settled
for
ever

I was born
to a life of never change
though I didn’t
want to be
same familiar streets
same people
year after year
until one sweltering
Chicago summer night
the moon full
color of sun
reflecting off
fields of green
and the sweet scent
of lilacs from
our back yard
helped me sprout wings
so that I
could fly
away

— Odilia Galván Rodríguez

Poet and activist Odilia Galván Rodríguez was born in Texas and raised in Chicago. She’s published four volumes of poetry and co-edited Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice (University of Arizona, 2016) with Francisco X. Alarcón.

[Research note: Claudia D. Hernández, Interview with Odilia Galván Rodríguez, posted February 17, 2015]

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