In light of the two poems Ruth linked to (One, Two (scroll down to “To An Old Black Woman”) I got thinking about the old Hispanic woman I saw handing out stripper cards on the street in Las Vegas, when I was there for ApacheCon several years ago.
I think about her quite frequently. What she must have thought when she moved to the USA in search of a better life. How disappointed she must be with the life she has found. The profound shame of having to hand out advertisements for whores in order to feed herself and her family for one more day.
Perhaps her story isn’t that bleak. But there are millions of people, all over the world, who gave up their simple existence to go to the promise of something better, and just haven’t found it.
She is the one I think of every time I think of Las Vegas. It’s an interesting place to visit, once, but one has to wonder how much suffering all that glitz is built on top of. I have no desire to go there again.
Nov 20, 2007
possibly someone’s grandmother,
come across the border
for the promise of a new life,
better schools for the kids,
a safe place to grow old.
She remembers the farm,
the warm kitchen,
the shouts of the children
and the sounds of the
men returning from the fields.
She remembers leaving that
for something so much better.
If only she could have it back.
She stands beneath the garish lights,
hears the incessant bells from the casino,
holds out the hated cards
to one more young white man.
$69 for a private show.
Her eyes downcast,
she remembers how proud her family was of her.