Kaci Elder



I lean towards earth,
Overfilled baskets hug my shoulders.
Between Guadalupe's rounded belly and Pedro's whistles,
My fingers pick coffee on the finca,
Owned by a company that plays jingles for the rich
To make them drink more.
Five cordobas a pound. Nothing.
Mi familia never hears jingles in the fields.
We hear our history, sung by my Mami
Under rising moons.
Mami's fingers pick beans while her tongue grows stories
Of la granja, our farm, kidnapped by cousins of the great dictator.
She speaks, and I imagine.....chickens..... rows of white beans..... laughter.


Our people rise: peasants, teachers, forgotten warriors
Fool the ruler by pretending to sleep
While he roams, steals, rapes and hoards.
They wake,
Knock him from his tower.

I come from the fields- a carrier of books, not beans,
To teach the poorest to read. By bus,
I go to San Martin, a forest village filled
With the original landowners: Sumus, Miskitos, Mayagnas.
We read manure-stained books over long nights
With tortillas, café y arroz.


One morning Miguel disappears.
Guadalupe bleeds from her leg,
Whispers circle the village.
Men with guns, who knew them?
Five men taken,
And three bodies by the river.
Somebody found a hand.

Then Pedro is disappeared.
The Hernandez family, all taken.


We whisper in fear of men
Given machetes and machine guns
By the North,
Who fears us.

Nights grow small and long again.
I imagine..... chickens..... rows of white beans..... laughter.

This poem was inspired by the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua

An actor, poet and fair-trade coffee drinker, Kaci Elder is learning the long, slow lesson that black lines--magically assembled into letters then words then indented messages on the page--can subtly shift consciousness and the way we see each other. This gives her hope. She manages a hostel in Redwood National Park with her muses, Ryan her husband and Rory her son.

(author retains copyright)