walking girl in Guatemala

libros de textos


Silken ebony ropes

cascade past her shoulders.

Small wisps dance in the mountain breeze

as she begins her daily journey

down the rocky path.


Second-hand sandals reveal

dust covered toes.


A vibrant textile starts its dayshift

cinched around her waist

after a full night’s work as a blanket.


Threads, intricately woven on mamá’s back strap loom,

adorn her blouse with the pattern

that has identified her village for generations.


All the same

as her mamá, her abuela, her ancestors.


All the same but her hands.


Not filled with pasty maize clapped into tortillas.

Not calloused and bloody from the hoe.

Not soothing a fussy infant in a sling.


Grasping books.


Carefully covered in craft paper,

wrapped in thick plastic and

cradled in her arms

to defy the elements.


Books that just hold words

but not just words…


A signature for her now

instead of a thumbprint.


A life of her choosing

not indentured servitude

to a wealthy family or a plantation owner

or a husband.


Context on which to base her dreams,

knowledge by which to make them reality.


A Mayan girl

in the mountains of Guatemala.


The same

as her mamá, her abuela, her ancestors.


All the same but her future.

textbook girl

Written by Holly End and first published in For a Better World 2013, a juried anthology of poems and visual art pertaining to peace and justice.