Home > Poetry > Dying Tejano
Published: Wed Mar 13 2024
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Online 2024 Nature Ethnicity Relationships
Dying Tejano

When you’re dying of boredom, you won’t know the backwoods
are aflame. You won’t know loneliness is a disease. You’ll die
even younger than yesterday’s Tejano when you’re the last one.
Isolation is equal to smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. You heard
sleeping next to your love lowers blood pressure. You could live.
Grow larger than Texas. You could name your succulents Pedro y
Marisol. Listen to the way they drink water in drought.

When there’s nothing left of greed, when there’s a name for thirst,
you’ll want to ask, When will it stop? What if you don’t want
to keep growing? What if, instead, you learn to sustain a garden?

What does it take to live long and ripe?
Lady Bird Johnson lived six years short of one hundred
and they named a wildflower center after her. Nature
was my friend
, she said. It never failed me.

Is one of us capable of failure?
All of us bled here. Among us,
you may be the last one to wonder
if boredom only kills when you forget you were never the first.

Yesterday you learned that sweetgrass burns like sage.
It grows green and resilient like wisdom or medicine.
Studies report that sweetgrass grows best with human touch.

Field notes discern which ones need attention.
Absence becomes a lesson in intimacy. In one study,
when left in the wild without touch, the sweetgrass never blossomed.

That’s you—you’re the sweetgrass. Or
neglect restored by affection, a thrill. The careful attention to
your leaves. When you learn to bathe in sunlight,
you’ll know that one day you have to sleep. Return to air.

You’d like to picture someone else taking your place.
That’s beyond you, but it’s the creature in you.
The child of Earth, the child of Texas,
the child of Mexican parents in you.

Were you ever angry when they said, Be fruitful and multiply?
They gave you the seeds and the blood,
then let nature run its course, didn’t they?

Online 2020 Nature Politics Relationships
Looking for Arrowheads
AGNI 91 Loss Nature Relationships
AGNI 91 Journeys Nature Relationships
Online 2019 Animals Nature Relationships

Sebastián H. Páramo is the author of Portrait of Us Burning (Curbstone Books, 2023). His poems have recently appeared in Poetry Northwest, The Arkansas International, AGNI, Prairie Schooner, New England Review, and elsewhere. He is the founding editor of The Boiler, poetry editor of Deep Vellum, and a visiting assistant professor of English at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. (updated 4/2024)

Back to top