A Poetry of Remembrance: Read New Mexico's inaugural Poet Laureate Levi Romero's poem

Levi Romero
From Staff Reports
Dr. Levi Romero, a professor in the the Chicano Studies program at the University of New Mexico.

Editor's note: Levi Romero is New Mexico's first poet laureate. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, he delivered this poem as part of the opening day ceremonies of the state's 2021 60-day legislative session.

A Poetry of Remembrance 

it may be  

the sky 
its evening color 
just north on the horizon lifting 
in whispers of apricot, lavender, and periwinkle 

or it may be  

the way the old rusted cars’ rooftops 
smudge into the solemn landscape’s drifting light 
cartwheeling across the alfalfa field 
towards a full moon in coming 

i am sure it is that 
this evening 

which makes it difficult  
for us to gather our bags  
and continue on 

even though  
we have garnished what we can 
and like a grandmother’s measure 
take with us  
no more and no less 


aquí en este pueblo 
en este valle 
en esta vecindad 

it is a poetry of remembrance 
and of an honoring of land and people 

earth songs 
love poems 
born of celebration and mourning 

in the place where I come from 

        también de gusto se llora 
        como de tristeza se canta 

and under that colorful backdrop 
of a spring dusk framing the village  

there are sad stories  
that accompany us in our comings 
there are joyful stories  
that walk with us in our goings 

at times we see   
a finality to a way of life no longer 
but we carry in our hearts  
a memoried time the ancianos speak of  

through the poetry  
and the song and the rhythm 
of their stories 

        and we take their stories 
        and we form ours to theirs 
        and we lament the tongue 

        recalling the sound 
        of  its home language 

        how we carry it with us 
        into this our other world 
        lamenting the spirit of the heart  
        which will cry out to no one’s hearing 

        and we take the forewarning of the elders 
        our granpitos, our gramitas, tíos y tías 
        and we’ll remember  
        we’ll remember  
        we’ll remember 

        and we’ll laugh and join 
        in the circle of our brethren  
        in that vast periphery  
        hollow and echoing 
        remembering us back home 

        because we are the ones left 
        still here, still alive 

        and we’ll rejoice and feast 
        in the clumsiness of our faith  
        and we’ll dance around the open fire 
        stepping out into the next tomorrow 

        because we are the ones still here, still alive 
        because we are still alive 
        because we are still alive 

        or maybe  

it’s simply the thump  
of the trunk lid as it is shut 
the one more final goodbye having been said 
the family dog gone wagging its way 
back under the old retired family sedan 

Venus already twinkling 

it may be that 
this evening 

        a poetry of remembrance 

and an honoring 
of land and people 

earth songs  
love poems 

of celebration and mourning 

it may be that 
this evening 

which makes it possible   
for us to gather ourselves  
and continue on  

                            Levi Romero 

Levi Romero was selected as the inaugural New Mexico Poet Laureate in 2020 and New Mexico Centennial Poet in 2012. His most recent book is the co-edited anthology, Querencia: Reflections on the New Mexico Homeland. His two collections of poetry are A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. He is co-author of Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland. He is an Assistant Professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at the University of New Mexico.​​​​​​​

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