Calvary Cemetery on a Summer Afternoon

Calvary Cemetery on a Summer Afternoon

By Margaret Elysia Garcia


Seven rows from the chain link fence,

Facing the drought brown hills

and that pretty polluted gray orange sky,

His great grandparents lay to rest.

Querido. Querida.

No English words to violate the stone.

Born 1898, 1901: Mexico.

Died Americans in the fifties, in their fifties.

The landscaping dotted

by old monuments and dusty palm trees,

which sway in the Santa Ana winds

Back and forth, back and forth

Like a 20th century family crossings

That invisible, but visible line.


Who are you when your grandparents

were American but your parents were not?

Where is that back of the line

For those whose families came before?

Who are you with your young American tongue

And Mexican ink on your birth certificate?

They don’t ask in the visa line:

Anglo gets narrative; brown gets assumption.

Who are you when your people are

Buried in Calvary, next to silent movie stars,

A few miles from the last Spanish governor?

He looks up from their graves

To the hillside above East Los Angeles:

Every building could use a new coat of paint.

The powerlines look heavy, the billboards look torn.

It’s summer day scorched. The dust thick palm trees

Weighted by freeways and a stagnant air,

Their grafting, like his, taken hold in this place—

An odd allegiance so far from the sea.



About Margaret Elysia Garcia

Margaret Elysia Garcia is the author of Sad Girls & Other Stories and Mary of the Chance Encounters. She’s a reporter for Feather River Publishin, contributing editor for Hip Mama Magazine, and a director of Listen to Your Mother Show. She’s the co-founder of Pachuca Productions—Latina owned theatre company.