By Patrick T. Reardon


The Mexican goddess enfleshed in

McDonald’s with a wide smile under

her wide mountain nose and her

children, all girls under eight, alert

to the kiosk choices, and her thin

husband, studying the receipt and,

for no reason, remembering when

he was thinner, younger, and stood

waiting for work through the sun arc

and got an hour’s worth at the end

and was paid a day’s worth and

Delfina and Dimas by Diego Rivera (1935).

never got a chance to go back, and

he shows his vaccination card on his

phone to the McDonald’s woman,

masked, who asks in Spanish, and so

does his oldest daughter on her own

phone, the other two too young to

need it, but the Buddha goddess

smiles, shy, and shakes her head no,

and the McDonald’s woman gives her

a pass, seeing that it’s nine degrees

outside and let’s hope no city

inspector is around, not that guy

there writing notes on his receipt

about the thick stone idol, his mother,

weighing more than all the planets,

yet only a much notched shell around

a constant dread hurricane that

electricked through the soil and up,

like a dishonest bloom, into the

tendons of her many daughters and

sons, and the Quetzalcoatl goddess

heads outside to the car, holding,

with one hand, her coat half-closed

against the wind and, with the other,

her little daughter’s hand and winter

cap with a cartoon animal face, the

sum of all joys and sorrows, and the

guy making notes, for no reason,

remembers the sun’s morning shadows

across seminary fields when, younger,

thinner, he knew himself adrift on an

essential river moving away from

the interior and out to the mouth

of the boundless perplexing sea.


Patrick T. Reardon


This poem originally appeared at Silver Birch Poetry on 9.16.22.

Written by : Patrick T. Reardon

For more than three decades Patrick T. Reardon was an urban affairs writer, a feature writer, a columnist, and an editor for the Chicago Tribune. In 2000 he was one of a team of 50 staff members who won a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. Now a freelance writer and poet, he has contributed chapters to several books and is the author of Faith Stripped to Its Essence. His website is https://patricktreardon.com/.

Leave A Comment