Gateway to the Valley

for my grandmother, Maureen Gonzales



Heading south on 77 was always a test in patience.

Miles of ranch littered with nothing more than watering

holes—mesquite trees and Border Patrol always losing

their game—seeking maids and trabajadores.


King Ranch becomes—almost unbearable,

barren highways, suddenly divided by—oleander walls;

the only indication—civilization does exist

in this ghostly part of Texas. 


There!  Up ahead, palm trees lined in their perfect rows

marking the gateway—to the valley—

womb from which I was born. 


          At 16, I migrate—every year,

          annual baptism in love.  Cultura. 



When I would enter the gate at Cottonwood Creek—turn left,

I could taste café con leche—pan dulce

feel the silk of furrowed hands against this face.  


¡Aquí estoy! I'm home!


She is gone.  And the road to her is marked Mont Meta

Cemetery.  Miles south on 77 seem—impassable,

in this child's eye.  Yes, this highway is still long—

and you can still see—

the devil dancing


               so           damn           hot.  


The oleanders still—

blush in summer. 

And the palm trees

sway—in their greeting

to all who enter

here—but the valley,

is no longer          


Callendo Sobre el Piso

Look into her eyes.  See yourself.

                     Your mother.

                                 Unborn daughter.


                                 Then you.

Laughter.  The story unravels—

                                                      before you.

Colors of coffee.



                 ~   ~   ~

Colors that paint

women with bent backs picking


                            Lettuce.  Grapes. 




             masa for tortillas con

un poquitito de mantequilla callendo

             sobre el piso.


             ~   ~   ~

Young girls lost

en calor de pasión

                            with their clothes callendo


                el piso—





             torn—regretting callendo sobre el piso

             ~   ~   ~

Brown bellies about              to explode


              from between thin legs                callendo

              sobre               el piso     

                                        school books in one hand;

                                        life of pobreza

                                                                     in the other.

             ~   ~   ~

You smile.  Then cry—

                                        know you’ve seen

those eyes before.

                              They belong to some


or vecina           you see      

                               callendo sobre el piso—skinning

                               her knees.



            Our hearts.

Bio:  Celina Villagarcia

Celina Villagarcia’s roots are in the Rio Grande Valley, San Benito, Texas.  She earned her B.A. in Sociology at Metropolitan State University of Denver and most recently a Masters of Arts in Theology at Oblate School of Theology in May 2012.  She has lived in San Antonio, Texas for the past twelve years where she and her husband, Paul, find great pleasure in raising their four children.  An emerging poet, her work has appeared in Texas Poetry Calendar and San Antonio Express-News.  Her forthcoming collection of poetry, Pulp, will be published Autumn, 2013 by Mouthfeel Press.  Photo credit: Ashley Serene Photography.

MAY 2013

Alvarado Valdivia         Arias        Cerda        Chatelain        Desimone        Ferro    gomez        Hernandez Diaz        Huizar        Ibarra        Martinez Serrano        Molina        Muñoz        Najarro        Olivarez        Ponce-Melendez        Ramirez        Reyna        Rosales        Salazar        Villagarcia        Zablah