“Waylon’s for dancing
Willie’s for crying
And Merle’s for drinking when the first two don’t work.”
Mama wasn’t a country girl
but nothing turned her country quicker than her man leaving
and her, broke, with three kids and a stuttering, banana yellow Datsun
she named Lucille.
Mama always wanted to be a feminist cowgirl
probably came as close as she ever would
living at the edge of Albuquerque in 1963
working at the Bob’s Big Boy on Central and studying anthropology
she said “My only friends that year were an Indian and a Texan who drank too much”
and maybe those were the first lines of her country song.
Mama wanted her own rodeo
but thought she had to rope the bull first
they were women whose aprons snarled around their waists
and caught in the kitchen door
as they ran, breasts trapezing, out of their husband’s houses
women who shattered when that glass ceiling
got a little too close.
Mama on the floor, legs tucked under
her glass of boxed chardonnay and tears refracted the brass lamp light
as Willie sang “Give me, give me one more chance to keep you satisfied
cause you were always on my mind…you were always on my mind.”
And there were those nights at the Red Rooster dancing to that old time
rock and roll and happy hours with co-workers.
Mama on a new used motorcycle
in a slender, sunny t-shirt that read
“So many men so little time”
we rode in slow ellipses around her office parking lot
and mouthed promises never to tell dad about any of it.
All her wrecks cracked the glass
and I stumble through the shards of choices
so many roads so little time, Mama.
Life mostly in the rear view, she says
things would be different
and maybe she would’ve stayed
but who would I be if she hadn’t been a rebel child
for a little while?
Yasmeen’s love for her home is as wide as the old Rio Grande but more faithful. An environmental planner, public servant and determined Valley girl, she loves to grow food, wander the acequias and bosque and spread the gospel of the Good Brown Road. Her poems appear in the As Us Journal, Graffiti Kolkata Broadside, Artistica, La Bloga, El Tecolote’s 40th Anniversary Literary Edition and Poets for Living Waters and the anthologies Poetry of Resistance: Voices for Social Justice, The Stark Electric Space, Adobe Walls and Fixed and Free Poetry. She lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley.
Photo of Yasmeen Najmi by Angelo J. Sandoval