Mexican Murals / Lorraine Caputo

San Blas, Nayarit

(a poem for four voices)

I.

I walk into the coolness of the old church. The late

morning sunlight beams through the tattered

clay-tile roof.

In the center of the nave, the dead Christ bathed

in his blood lies still in a glass coffin. Slips of paper,

people’s requests, scatter his robe.

Through this stillness I walk, beneath the gaze

of a dozen saints guarding prayers held by

the weight of lit candles. A trio of pigeons fly

from the beams.

II.

In the mid-afternoon sun & sea breeze, two young men

race their horses down the cobbled street, towards

the beach. One boy gains speed, whipping his horse’s flank

with a rein of yellow plastic rope.

III.

The fishermen pull their net towards shore. Villagers run to help.

Working with the sea, they bring it in, pulling with each ebb,

relaxing with each flow. Frigate birds circle overhead, swooping

towards the net full of jumping silver-bodied fish.

Each person receives two. Soon the smell of smoking fish fills

the waning afternoon. Mariachi musicians wander down the beach,

into a wave of butterflies, carrying their silent instruments.

IV.

Twilight falls over the zócalo. The loud shrill of zanates fills the trees.

Jejenes silently bite tender northern skin.

Children play tag in the bandstand. Parents watch them from park

benches, talking amongst themselves.

On another bench, a North American sits, a pin-encrusted cowboy hat

covering his bald head, plaid shorts revealing plump tanned legs.

Children selling tamales from buckets, gum from boxes, wander

towards him. He shoos them away in English and mutters

      Damn, when I say no

            I mean no

Other curious children are drawn to him. To each he gives a piece

of candy. Once more he migrates here to this southern coast, fleeing

the northern snows.

A young man walks across the plaza, straight-backed, his hips swaying.

He gazes over his dark shoulders, tossing his long wavy hair with

a fine-boned hand.

The zanates wildly dance in waves of flight, from tree to tree, across the zócalo.

V.

Under strings of electric lights, a woman calls for lotería players

      For two pesitos

            you can win a bag of groceries

The retired North American shakes his head at her invitation to join

& yells out

      I don’t know Spanish

People sit at the wooden tables, choosing bingo cards. Children hang

over their shoulders.

      Ready?

            One the count of three we begin

                  Uno       dos       tres

As each card is turned over

            &   held aloft                                       El pescado

      she announces the objects                         La palma

Kernels of dried corn cover bingo squares      La Garza

Children eagerly point                                                El borrcho

      to near-missed calls                                   La estrella

                                                                        La chalupa

Through the starry sky                                   La luna

      the crescent moon boats                           La dama

From a near-by stand                                      La sandía

      a woman sells cups of melon                    El camarón

In a      courtyard                                            El valiente

            a few blocks away                                          El perico

      don Alfredo’s parrot                                 El sol

            cracks another sunflower seed            La campana

                                                                        La araña

Some players shake their heads                      El gallito

      at their slowly-filling cards                       El músico

Others excitedly place their kernels                El árbol

                                                                        La muerte

At last the cry comes 

      ¡Lotería!

The anxious woman’s card is checked. With a gapped smile,

she accepts the heavy, full bag.

The next round of lotería is announced   

      Por dos pesitos

            van a ganar

Players leave & new ones sit at the wooden table, choosing their cards.

V.

I awaken once more from the sting of jején bites. Up on the roof,

standing beneath the black sky shot full of stars, I watch the mountains

surrounding the bay silhouetted against the lightening rose-grey sky.

Rooster songs flow through the sleeping town. Waves crash in the distance.

Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator and travel writer. Her works appear in over 200 journals on six continents; and 14 chapbooks of poetry – including Caribbean Nights (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2014), Notes from the Patagonia (dancing girl press, 2017) and On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019). She also authors travel narratives, articles and guidebooks. In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada honored her verse. Caputo has done literary readings from Alaska to the Patagonia. She travels through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her travels at: www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer or https://latinamericawanderer.wordpress.com

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