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Our Lady of Guadalupe by Francisco Serrano

Our Lady of Guadalupe

by Francisco Serrano

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A real experience of magical realism, anyone? This actually is a true story of what happened to me some years back in Tijuana, Mexico. Some time following, I wrote this poem:


It happened in Tijuana
When I took the train down from San Diego
On the day off from my publishing meeting.

It was a cold, winter day and I wore only a light sweater.
After an hour of walking the narrow streets of Tijuana
Where vendors sold everything to tourists,
From leather jackets, peanuts and piñatas,
To ladies jeweled dresses and maracas
I began to feel feverish.

A few more minutes of walking
And I knew I had to act fast.
As a first step I bought
A wool red and white poncho
From a street vendor and asked him for the location
Of a church.
I figured a church was a good place to lie down,
And Mexico being a strong Catholic country
Would have many churches.
I wasn’t wrong.
The Mexican vendor pointed to the next street
And told me to turn right and go down three blocks.

Being Thursday I thought I’d have
The church all to myself.
Boy, was I wrong.
The church was jammed packed.
Mexicans not only filling the pews,
But Mexicans
Standing tight together all over the place.
Well, I had a fever and had to do what I had to do.
I squeezed through the crowd
Until my back was against a pillar.
I slid down the pillar so
My rump was on the floor,
Knees to my chest, back and head
Resting against the pillar.

Instantly I fell asleep.
After what must have been an hour
Covered in sweat, I slowly started coming out of sleep,
And could feel my fever breaking.
Still with my eyes closed and still mostly asleep,
I could hear singing
Sounding like the voices of angels.
I was so disoriented I thought I passed from my body.
So this is what the afterlife is like, I thought.
Still with my eyes closed
I saw the vision of a glowing goddess angel
Framed by angelic singing.

Slowly, very slowly, I started to open my eyes.
I could see the back of many legs.
I looked up and saw a white and gold ceiling.
It all came back to me:
I didn’t die after all,
I had a fever,
I entered this jam packed Mexican church.
I squeezed my way to this pillar,
I sat down and fell asleep.

I remained sitting.
Still listening to the music, remembering my
Vision of the gold and white goddess angel.

It felt good to sit and rest.
I couldn’t get over the packed Mexican church
On Thursday!
Mexican teenagers on their tiptoes,
Straining to get a glimpse of the priest;
Smiling, well-dressed young men handing out programs.
Men and woman packed next to one another.
And everybody so excited. What is all this?

After I rested some more,
I made my way to my feet and squeezed back
Out of the church and walked back down the street
To where I bought the poncho.
I asked the Mexican vendor
Why the church was so packed.
He said, “Today is a big celebration;
Today is the day the Virgin Mary
Appeared in Mexico
Today is the day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.”

I used my head and didn’t tell him about my vision.
For I reasoned that if I did all those excited Mexicans
Might nail me to a cross and parade me
Through their narrow streets,
Me of all people, a goofy non-Catholic gringo tourist,
Having a clear, ecstatic vision
Of their Lady of Guadalupe. ( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0888993358, Hardcover)

A complex mix of Catholic and Aztec iconography, the Lady of Guadalupe has been revered for centuries as both the traditional Catholic Mother of God and the incarnation of Aztec female deities both cruel and gentle. This sophisticated pop-up book presents an iconic image of the Virgin that will appeal to those who look to her as a religious, political, or cultural force. Full color.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:01 -0400)

"Queen of heaven and beloved by her people, Our lady of Guadalupe is presented in this lavish pop-up book that tells the story of how she appeared to Juan Diiego on the hill of Tepeyac so many years ago."

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