Dark As Night (28)

Dark as night the heads of children racing back and forth across the plaza shouting, hair shiny in the early dusk. Dark as night the grackles roosting in the jacarandas of the zocoló. Dark the skin of every single body in the crowded square, except her. Old men, young women, clustered, Spanish a loud, steady murmur, the rapid curve of a summer creek, as steady as the grackles calling from the trees, a cacophony of conversation, a mad frenzied orchestra tuning up. Dark as night the glistening black feathers, dark the skin, dark the grackle silhouettes, dark of every being in the zocoló but her, her white skin a bruised thumb, dumb with her estadounidense self. She would lose her Puerto Rican friend over a careless email about walking through the plaza in that Sunday twilight, the dirty cement, the alien dark-skinned world, her senses dulled by too much beer. Not racism, though, only sinking in a sea of otherness, aching and alone. But now she dreams of it like dessert. She’ll go again, sit nodding, smiling on a bench, tears sliding down her face in the half light. Eyes closed, the symphony surrounds her. The grackles make her heart dance in her chest, bump against her ribs. She holds still in the center of that boisterous foreign world where language is music. Her white skin gets lost in the late dusk until her estadounidense self all but disappears. She sits there while the light slips away, until it feels right to be there in the heart of things, dark as night and plain as day.

[Editor’s note: This piece was begun with a writing prompt from my Monday night writing workshop led by Alaina Bixon. We were told to begin a poem with a cliche. Thank you, Alaina.]

7 thoughts on “Dark As Night (28)

  1. Just to let you feel like you’re here – It rained almost an inch last night. The rainy season doesn’t want to give up this year. The mountains know that it is time to turn brown, but maybe the lake will gain just a little more water before it starts dropping again. The many churches of Chapala are celebrating their Fiestas Patronales, one after the other, so the cohuetes are booming most days to remind us where we are. Tonight it is Santa Teresa, a block and a half from my house. The Misa is a midnight and the band starts right after church. My earplugs are ready.

  2. Oh—what a nice thing to know. Thanks for telling me what your best friend said, Kathy.

    And your post, of course, makes me want to be there, too! But I will say that I used to think (dream?) that if I settled in to live in Ajijic for the rest of my life, I would try to be gone for parts of October and for the saint’s festival in November. The incessant rockets were too much for me. (I think I mention them somewhere.) And the smoggy spring was too much, too. And my neighbors burning plastic. But, there was so much—the fabric of the days there—that calls to me still. I think maybe it always will.

    So, you are in Chapala, Kathy? And how long have you lived there?

  3. I’ve been in Chapala for eight years. I like it better than Ajijic. I usually escape to Barra de Navidad during the big fiestas, but I’ve never seen any smog or plastic burning here. By the way, your older posts about Salton Sea interest me, too. We used to go there a lot when I was a kid – to a small bar/restaurant/campground called Mary’s, I think. I’m pretty sure it was on the west shore somewhere, but I can’t find any reference to it.

  4. It’s a pretty depressed area now (the Salton Sea). I don’t know it well, but I will eagerly return one day. I think it is still beautiful and amazing to have it in the middle of the desert. It is getting close to crunch time now with the water about to be diverted and no one having addressed the danger of it drying up and the dust contaminating all the surrounding areas (not to mention the loss for the migrating birds which would be huge!). I am still crossing my fingers it will be saved.

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