A Journey to Tepeyac- by Randel McCraw Helms

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A Journey to Tepeyac

Hear a tale of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

In the Mexican village of Tepeyac,

On the very site of an ancient shrine

Sacred to Tonantzin, mother of all gods,

The Queen of the Americas graces

All those faithful who journey here in hope

And love, some on a litter of pain, some on their

Bleeding knees.

                       In the summer of the year

Of our Lord 1939, the widow

Lupita Jimenez fell, cutting her

Leg on a sharpened stake.  The wound festered

Painfully, and, fevered, she could not rise

From her pallet, even to tend her beloved

Son, Juan Diego, or their treasured burro,

Source of their only wealth, hauling charcoal

For the village.  Even as her leg refused

To heal, the burro sickened and died in

The heat.  Soon centavos, then food, dwindled.

Juan Diego was strong, and lacked no love

For his mother.  “Mama, what are we to do?”

“Take me to Tepeyac,” she said, “to pray

Our Lady, lest we die.” “But Mama, our

Burro is dead!  How can I?  God help me

I will carry you myself; tell me the way.”

So Juan Diego packed what food they had,

With a pallet and pillow for his mother,

Wrapping them in a strong blanket with a

Large and heavy flask of water.  Then he

Trudged two miles toward Tepeyac and left them

Beside the path to hurry home. There, he

Hoisted his dear mother upon his back,

And made his way slowly to the cache. Setting

His mother gently down, he stopped to rest and drink.

Then he lifted the lightening pack, and

Walked another two miles, to deposit

The load and return to his beloved mother.

This he did over ten days and sixty

Miles, for her, one hundred eighty for him.

On the way, travelers who saw what love

Was here, heaped food upon them, and praises

For Juan Diego. “Go with God,” they said.

During those hours, neither noticing, the

Salt of the sweat of his devotion worked upon

Her wound, and slowly it healed in silence,

As Our Lady awaited at Tepeyac.

Once there, they looked, in awe, at the clean scar.

Blessing in thankfulness the Virgin’s love,

That woman walk home unaided with her son,

Bearing in her strong arms a sack of gifted meal.

The Night Is Coming, When None Can Work

Life builds eyes at need, a jelly to let

The light come in, and makes them fade, as well.

Pale blind cave fish feel, not see; with endless

Night eyes fall vestige, costly luxury.

Before sight, no scene yearned for seers, no

Sky blued for us. Fear forced eyes upon flesh:

We are mice, and the night fills with owls,

Spawn, floating in a wash of famished jaws.

Maybe no vision in heaven, either, no

Loveliness without the lens to view it.

What if eternity were retrospect alone,

Yet not long enough for love and wonder?

Open your eyes, see what you can with them,

Now, before they both fold shut forever.


***Randel McCraw Helms retired from the English Department at Arizona State University in 2007, having taught classes in the Romantic poets, the Bible as Literature and contemporary literature there for thirty years.  He is the author of five books of literary criticism, including “Tolkien’s World,” “Who Wrote the Gospels?” and “Gospel Fictions.”

Making poems is his lifelong avocation, and now he has time to write them as much as he wants. He is preparing a book of poems to be entitled “Matters of Life and Death.”***

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