Two Poems by
The Truth of a Thing Can Come In a Flash
After a phantom ride through miles
of green Yucata̒n jungle, the hotel van moves
under a white stuccoed arch, enters the hum
of Valladolid, passes blocks of row buildings
painted lime, yellow, burnt red. Ushered
out downtown, given "three hours to explore,"
I head for the twin cathedral towers
that watch over the town's narrow streets.
The tremolo sounds of Spanish guitar played
under the lush green leaves of trees reel me
into a plaza where a girl, barely a teen,
sits beside the guitarist, perhaps her father.
Her feet dirty under tasseled fringe of a brown
blanket poncho, I hesitate, hesitate
to be taken in by beggars, wonder if a man
who plays so elegantly can really be dirt poor.
I decide to move on but the girl's "Señor" stops
me, grief the most riveting language. I finger
out two fifty pesos coins in my pocket -- one
for the girl's hand, and one for the open
guitar case -- this afternoon's price for beauty --
and sit on the bench next to them.
On a day of high sun and bird songs in trees at Chiche̒n-Itza̒
I am at the edge of the Well of Sacrifice, a lake in a crevice
of limestone hills, wait by it as the guide's voice fades,
moving the group down the central plaza -- set to dreaming
by her strange story of crop failure, drought, war, how living
bodies fell here, their blood released by priests, clouding
an underworld of blue water so the carved stone hands
of gods might lift to grace again an anxious people.
I wonder at the death-walk slap of sandals up to the end
of life, on a day like today, the drip drip feeding of souls
to water, lulled maybe by the rhythm of priests' chants,
bowls of drugged liquid from the hands of fervid servants,
how in their steps the chosen dream the rains have come,
the war against the city ended, mid-step, how they might
lift eyes in a shuffling line that idles at the murmured news,
how they are let go, running for the kiss of family with hearts
burning like the liquor from agave plants.
Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia on a property lush with vegetation. For the last thirteen years he has worked in a library.
He has recent poems in Sky Island Journal, As It Ought to Be Magazine, Poets Reading the News, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Third Wednesday, Red Eft
Review, and other places.