“Por la libre” first appeared in the anthology Goodbye, Mexico: Poems of Remembrance
Por la libre
Just out of Reynosa, you shifted into fifth
And roared to the state line, cigarette in hand.
At the checkpoint we just waved our IDs,
My license, your green card, no need for permits
Or passports then. You pulled into a depósito,
Bought a six-pack of Tecate Light
And then we hit the freeway.
Clutching a can between your knees,
You worked the gearshift like a racer,
Blazing along a thin ribbon of grey
Down that arid, brush-specked plain,
Alejandra Guzmán crooning hoarse against guitars
As I leaned back in the bucket seat, watching you,
The wind snatching at your dark curls,
Rattling your earrings.
I surrendered myself to the speed, to the road,
Utterly in your hands as you blew through Río Bravo,
The towns of China and Los Ramones a distant blur,
The petroleum fields of Cadereyta belching fire—
Two hundred kilometers in about two hours.
At Guadalupe you looped to skirt Monterrey
Till the Sierra Madre rushed rocky toward us,
The massive “M” of Chipinque verdant with pine.
You downshifted, took us up that sinuous road,
Parked away from other cars. Then hand-in-hand,
Intoxicated by the drive, the music, the beer,
We slipped into those clinquant shadows
Beneath the gnarled and silent boughs
And made love upon the leaves and needles
Like a Huastec couple three millennia past,
Newly arrived in these holy heights,
Having traveled from Mayan lands
To be joined together before the gods
At the very tip of the world.