Field SchoolAfter the earthquake, you see
a Biblical swarm of locusts. You are bit
sixty four times on both legs by invisible
flies that swarm in the sand.
The water of the Carribean
is always lukewarm and smells
of kerosene. The bed in the hotel,
every night, is cold and damp,
as it fills with tears of the tropical storm
leaking through the roof. It is difficult
to eat at first, the air is so full of strange flavors,
the smell of rotten fruit and the garlic and onion
scent of a particular tree. The tunnels
beneath the hieroglyphic stairway cave in,
the statue of 18 rabbit loses the glyph
of his name. When you come back
from the beach, the plaza is riddled
with bullets. There are blood-stains
on the walls and sidewalks. A man
from La Entrada was targeted by four
assassins, but, in this country, an assassin
is anyone who is given an AK47
and a few lempira a day. The "target"
escaped into the church, but four townspeople
were killed as the gunmen sprayed his getaway.
Tonight in Copan Ruinas, someone else
is without a child, a mother, a father, a son,
it's not magic how things keep disappearing.
Each year, it's a little harder to keep the jungle
back. In the towns, you see only men, never
women. Perhaps the women are
all that is left of the ancient Maya, hiding
in their houses that are constantly falling
down around them, trying to keep
out of sight of the gods who stream
up by the thousands like disturbed ants
out of the ground, devouring everything
within reach, a butterfly or two, an insect,
a bird that manages to fly away
down that pathway where the children of the jaguar
are still playing ball with human heads.
Issue #11, September, 1999 :
Santa Fe Poetry Broadside.