Ancestral Migration by Gloria Amescua


When he died on Texas soil,
my father’s spirit flew
like monarchs guided to their mountain home in Mexico
to an Oyamel forest sanctuary,
transforming firs to quivering golden boughs.

The young man that some would call
a mojado thought he would return some day.
He sent letters and money to his mother
and sister back in Michoacán.

Fear wormed into his bones
in his adopted country.
Yet this boy of sixteen
tore into an unknown land
and crept inside to stay alive.
He became one of the silent ones
to survive among strangers.

He dug deep, deep roots—
a wife, children, work, a home.
His migration to el norte
was one way only,
though his mother embraced
a dark shadow
where he used to shine,
and every vibrating cell
called him to return.

He longed to gaze once more
on the scattered remains
of Cienagitas, 
the mountain village and sacred valley
where he’d tended cows
and goats as a boy.

A whole life later—ill,
he asked a grandson
to take him back—we kept him
for doctors, treatments, love…

He had walked a long road—
died at ninety,
his American family vine
entwined around him.

Now at will,
his joyous soul returns
to kiss the old trees with the wind,
and dance in the dust of his ancestors.

—diaphanous mariposa—
                          has flown home.


Contributor Notes


“Ancestral Migration” was created out of regret and longing. I had hoped to fulfill my father’s desire to return to his birthplace, but we never quite made it to the little remote village in Michoacán. Fifty years after he sought a better life in the US, he did get to see two remaining brothers, a sister and extended family in Mexico. This poem goes beyond the one man to the many immigrants, who throughout time, have left their homes to seek a life in a place of hope and opportunity. They may or may not try to hold onto their culture and history, but I felt their souls must long to return to the families they left behind and to the land in their blood. Like the monarchs, the instinct to return, to connect with our ancestral homeland is passed down in the DNA of the generations.


GLORIA AMESCUA is an inaugural member of Canto Mundo, a national Latino poetry community created in 2010. Gloria has had poetry published in Poetgraphy, Di-Verse-City-Too, Tres-Di-Verse-CityIXHUAMujeres Morenas, and Awakenings, among others.  In addition, she has published a poetry chapbook, Windchimes. She has recently been awarded a residency in 2011 at Hedgebrook: A Writers in Residence program in Washington State.