Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Goodbye, Sandra Cantu

where are you? you were in
river why always inside river
water what is is about a body
of moving water that relinquishes the motions

of a murderer. they believe water
will take the baby and she will be gone
gone gone. they are wrong. little she is pulled
from the lap, released into custody, tenderly attended

to. each person that touches her
is too late. your mother remembers
nothing yet. she is erased and every second
of her life from now on will be new in the oldest way.

when the pain begins
like chemo, into her veins and heart
it will burn her. it will burn her up alive.
she will be held and loved and it will eat her away.

this is nature's way of protesting
an abomination, that a child should die
before her parents. that a child should die.
that a child should be murdered and left alone in the river

packed up inside a suitcase.
her arms and her legs, the place of soft
in her armpit, the soft of her lips, the soft,
unbearable soft of a little girl, made suitcase

your father is caved in
old man every man becomes
if his child is taken from him
by man turned into beast
your father is the oldest
man alive, and he will stay
alive only because he will,
and not for any other reason that we make up

like hope. he is simply alive
where are you simply gone your mother your father they wait to find out ////////
to see you again will you know my name

i believe i see you in river
water and your mother's heart
i feel your father's heart i feel i am leaving this
as ( _ ___ no )

i believe half of the people reading
this will have begun to stop, and their
veins harden and they can hear the sound
of the river moving over a baby in the suitcase

and because they are afraid
hearts might burst open
bleed to the point of exhaustion
or death, they cannot know about this

they cannot love you.
if the definition of love
only extends to those we
touch and know, we are going

to have these babies in the water forever.

maggie may ethridge april 7th 2009

(CNN) -- Police said they are pursuing leads in the death of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, whose body was found Monday stuffed into a suitcase in a dairy-farm pond near her Tracy, California, home. Sandra Cantu, 8, disappeared March 27. Her body was found at a dairy-farm pond near her Calilfornia home.

Sandra Cantu, 8, disappeared March 27. Her body was found at a dairy-farm pond near her Calilfornia home.

"We are heading in a direction," Tracy police Sgt. Tony Sheneman told reporters. "To comment on that would compromise the investigation, and I can't do that."

A search warrant was executed at the Tracy mobile home park where the girl lived, and a related search was to be conducted Tuesday at a nearby church, he said.

He implied more than one person may have been involved in the death of Sandra, who had been missing since March 27.

The day Sandra was last reported seen, she returned home from school, kissed her mother and left to play with a friend who lives nearby. A short time later, wearing a pink Hello Kitty T-shirt and black leggings, she left to go to another friend's home, according to a family spokeswoman.

Police said Monday the girl's clothing helped them identify the body.
Maggie May said...

Blogger messed up some of my editing, spacing, and I don't know how/if to fix it, so.

This little girl- my Lola is 7. and you know how when you are in the same spot as someone else exactly a time in your life when you love a certain way...so then the empathy is so intense it's painful. i honestly think i am not capable of truly understanding and believing that these things REALLY HAPPEN. i can't explain it better than that. this poem is saying, 'yes these things happen.' and ' this is what happens then. '

and i still don't believe it.

Maggie May said...

also i thought about changing the last line because god forbid ( and i'm not being sarcastic ) anyone should think i mean that somehow not loving enough is the reason that people go mad and do barbaric acts. i don't exactly know WHAT i meant, but i know i believe it, and that is the whole point of poetry for me at times, to say a mystery as if i can name it when i know i cannot.

Anonymous said...

never stop loving and writing.
some of your poems remind me the ballad of spoon river.
this is so genius!
te quiero con toda mi alma....

Badass Geek said...


This made me broken.

Anonymous said...

Maggie, I just read your self-comments :-), I'd not change a thing. SOMEONE will always think SOMETHING that doesn't dovetail with what you meant, but your heart is there, wide open for all to see, it is that obvious on this blog.

I've been reworking my resume & getting stuck and frustrated, and thinking of it as a "problem."
Thinking a lot of what it was like for Dad to be on hospice last year at this time......meaning, being self-absorbed, and this pulled me out of THAT.

Engulfingly painful, yet beautiful.

Ms. Moon said...

Maggie- I read this already crying as I have just read about another little girl who died. This one from "natural" causes and I just can't take this all in.
I can't.

Evangeline said...


Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Such awfulness, such sadness in this world. Love your writing.

Annie said...

Dear Maggie, Your poem has touched me into tears. You make the little child real, even if we didn't know her. She is every child. She is our child.

I wouldn't change the last line, because it has taken on a life of its own, perhaps different from what you intended. I read it to mean that if the reader cannot love a child they do not know, we are going to have these babies in the water forever.

♡Shayla♡ said...

oh, i'm a sucker for pretty words.

;) what a beauty.

Beth said...

I feel rage, fear, sadness and despair when reading about such horrors. You captured all those emotions - and more...

ButtonHole said...

I was so sad to hear about little Sandra on the news yesterday. Her mother on TV a few days ago was so pitiful. And that last image of Sandra on the surveillance tape, skipping along, so happy, just being a kid...heartbreaking.

Beautiful poem, Maggie.

a mouthy irish woman? ridiculous! said...

goodbye sweet baby girl...

maggie...beautifully sad, haunting expression....

Anonymous said...

An abomination.

My nephew was here with his three little girls when we learned what had happened. He told me that having two little girls left who depended on him would be the only thing that would keep him alive if this happened to one of his girls.

So very sad. Your words are wonderful.

Woman in a Window said...

Yes, Maggie May, so intense I couldn't finish. sorry. Unfathomable, painful long past my fingertips.

Diane said...

Oh man, this is SOOOO sad. It was heartbreaking when I heard it on the news.

Jeanne Estridge said...

Sometimes things happen to people we don't know, will never know, not even to the limited extent we "know" our fellow bloggers, and there's some connection -- we were born in the same year, or our children are the same age, or our mothers had the same name -- that turns a news article into a story that beats inside our own hearts.

J said...

I passed through Tracy a week ago, after she went missing, before she was (tragically) found. Saw the signs. Broken hearts. Every parent's worst nightmare, come true.

Anonymous said...

I love how you used the words to make this like her last sigh. Through my work and research, I know about these horrible things (too much perhaps), so it is a shock to my system to read something of the horror that is recreated into beauty.

Lola said...

I read it the same way Ms. Annie King did, and I thought it was perfect.

My son is eight, and seeing that little girl skipping along right before that monster took her devastated me. Seeing her mother completely unable to speak wrecked me. How the hell do you go on from that?

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