Sunday, August 28, 2016

Census Takers

Census Taking
              South Texas-1970

The front door is not visible,
We walk up a pathway to the side of the house,
A backdoor awaits; three crisp knocks,

A voice barely audible
Vertical?
We try Spanish; "Es El Censo..."
"C'mon in, just turn the handle, it should work."

She sits at her kitchen table, surrounding the wooden
chair, leaning forward, yellow-gray hair sighs,

First question: Names of all people in residence?
"It's just me, and I'm waitin' to die."
There is no room  on the form for commentary,

We stay an extra few minutes,
Maybe there is something we can do?
No, something we can actually do for her.
There isn't.
Just finish the required questions and leave the gifts of the future behind.

Back on the street; four more unanswered doors.
All with children playing in the front yards.
Some of these kids understand English and my Spanish
Between the mixed dialogue we learn there are six families here

We can't leave the state until all the Census forms are in,
The phone book reveals that Martinez and Ramirez
Appear more often North of the railroad tracks.
Es El Censo
We complete the forms
Martinez and Ramirez still in the lead,
We leave the state


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