Listen along as Robert René Galván performs "Hero"
Abuelita had a framed photo of my uncle Reyes on top of the television where she watched her novelas with impassive eyes;
Tío was dressed in full regalia, clutching his parachute, the smile under his helmet belying a dangerous profession; what else could a young man do to escape the poverty of the unpaved alley that was his namesake, the anonymity of a dusty town?
From time to time my mother received gossamer-thin airmail letters with exotic stamps, and I imagined him leaping into a sky riddled with silk jellyfish as I lifted each wafer with steam and pasted them into a small album.
Another picture, which had been entombed in a drawer for many years, shows him bare-chested in the Vietnamese jungle, enduring the sweltering heat, angry insects and mottled snakes, suffering malaria, trench foot and agent orange, watching over his men while they shaved in the stream, M-14 poised on his hip, surveying the trees with his mother’s sad eyes.
Listen along as Robert René Galván performs "Curandera"
Tía Luz was my mother’s aunt, but our entire family called her tía; in the neighborhood, she was known as La Bruja, which is what the conquistadores called indigenous healers in their misunderstanding of the art.
In her appearance she could have passed for those creatures of European lore, but embodied a tradition that existed centuries before they arrived;
Her shelves were laden with tinctures and vessels containing herbs:
uña de gato for arthritis chichibe for coughs cuerno de vaca for impotency lengua de perro for rashes yerba buena for an upset stomach
She could predict an infant’s sex by suspending a skeleton key over the mother’s belly, depending on which way it swayed, or avert el mal de ojo by burning the resin of the copal tree, healed a young boy’s nightmares after the padre’s beads and holy water had failed.
Robert René Galván, born in San Antonio, resides in New York City where he works as a professional musician and poet. His last collection of poems is entitled, Meteors, published by Lux Nova Press. His poetry was recently featured in Adelaide Literary Magazine, Azahares Literary Magazine, Gyroscope, Hawaii Review, Newtown Review, Panoply, Stillwater Review, West Texas Literary Review, and the Winter 2018 issue of UU World. He is a Shortlist Winner Nominee in the 2018 Adelaide Literary Award for Best Poem. Recently, his poems are featured in Puro ChicanX Writers of the 21st Century. He was educated at Texas State University, SUNY Stony Brook and the University of Texas.