Mama Grande

In those days travelling along
roads of dust and sun
tented wagons used to go,
the yoked oxen
ambling down the hollows,
the girl sat, her feet dangling,
looking out, the dog behind,
on either side piñuela fields along the road.
The women inside,
the pans, the knots of bundled clothes.
The drunken men laughing.
And the mama grande,
scarf on head,
silently smoking, patrona and matrona
of all around her,
living or not,
in charge of everything,
thinking of everything,
sat on the bench
inside the wagon,
with tiny little eyes
that see everything,
with her big soft hands
gesturing commands.
In the middle of the journey
she would decide to stop
to light a fire and heat up food.
They make coffee.
The dog jumps, happy.
The girl laughs.
They’d get the mama grande down,
bench and all,
and find her shade.
The women start work,
the men on haunches light cigars.
The mama grande,
cigar in hand,
her eyes half-shut,
watching everything.