Smeltertown was a "company town" and had a life embodied in the families. Well over 7,000 people were born, lived, and died within the tiny hamlet. Inside their home, my grandmother gave birth to 13 children of which 12 survived to adulthood. The burned twice and was rebuilt each time. Several years ago, a distant cousin wrote her dissertation about this community, which was once just as attached to the plant, as families and friends were to one another.
My parents were married at Cristo Rey, the Smeltertown's tiny Catholic Church, and in there, I crowned the statue of Mary for a May crowning when I was about six years old. I have stood inside the red, white striped tower while it was constructed, and my father took the elevator to the top when the last of the continuous pouring of cement was complete.
Now all in this community with connections to this place can start a new chapter of in the history of this city, this land. Yet while the tower may disappear, the stories of the lives and events enacted there will remain embodied in the stories and the ancient photographs we share with the world. I think I am no longer attached, but I remember.
smell the fresh tortillas as they
cook on the fire
feel the hot silt sand that
scorched my summer tanned feet.
see tiny rivulets of tears on my cousins’
silt-covered faces or juice cans
marcy buried in the ground
to practice his birdies and eagles.
taste the acrid sulphur that once
burned my lungs when we played outside.
hear the hollow and forlorn
sound of whistles that
signal the 2:00 a.m. shift
they said it was
la llorona coming for us.