For Elena, my Sister in Itzapa, Guatemala
Carolyn Ingram

When I close my eyes I hear the drum-beat
of tortillas slapped into form, the birds’
pio pio distant call. I see your aqua house
again, the first time I entered—our time
too short for holding back. Your shy sturdy beauty
tired from years shackled to work, watching
children without food. You fed sticks
into a wood burning stove, swept cement,
collected cold water to wash your clothes;
met with mothers, babies tied to their backs,
and pushed seeds into dirt; the small signs of success
surrounding you in circles—tiny fragrant pines,
ready to plant. When the mayor shut off the water—
without which you could neither wash nor cook
for Itzapa’s children, or the volunteers
who worked in the school born from your heart’s calling,
the school you never attended, the hours you never played,
the hunger that kept your focus narrow
when you were small—you protested. Elena I see
the contrast of green and blue covering shabby walls
of the room filled with splintered desks the government
school threw out. I see your children, taller
than you, dressed in corte and huipil;
your youngest in jeans; your granddaughter the first
with time to play. Elena, if I had been born
in your place, I wouldn’t have been like you.
I might have been one to follow your lead.
If you had gone to school, I know you
could have been anything, yet no more than you already are.


Carolyn Ingram won an Honorable Mention in the 2010 Burning Bush Poetry Prize!

About the author
Carolyn Ingram's poetry has been published in California Quarterly and White Pelican Review, and will appear in the Marin Poetry Anthology, 2010; and Whispering Angel Books. Her short fiction has been published in the online magazine, Bust Out. She is the co-author of non-fiction books Have You Ever Been a Child? (Trineheart Publishers, 1995) and The Not-So-Scary-Breast Cancer Book: Two Sisters Guide from Discovery to Recovery (Impact Publisher, 2000).  A psychologist and coach, she lives with her family in Marin County, California.  Visit her at: <> or email the author here.

How You Can Be Published
There are several ways. You can also send in poetry or short prose of your own to be considered for IN OUR OWN WORDS. We also recommend looking at the Classifieds in Poets and Writers Magazine, visiting our Calls for Submission Page, or entering a contest, similar to our annual "Burning Bush Poetry Prize". Only entries that include a SASE (self addressed stamped envelope) will be returned, so be sure to include this with your work. See our editorial philosphy.

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