by Lorraine Caputo
Pines on the canyon
ridge are shadowy in the
morning’s heavy mist.
The chilled sun rises
above, its filtered light a
Roosters crow from this
house & that & another
throughout the village.
Last night’s rain still drips
off the roof, water beads on
the empty clothesline.
As the new-born sun
climbs, it reflects bright off
the butter-colored church.
The heaven above is a
brilliant azure sapphire.
In the main plaza,
under the shade of trees &
gazebo, Rarámuri women set
out their baskets & weavings.
Their full calico
skirts fan beneath them.
One ties a kerchief upon
her black hair. Another lifts
her short blouse to nurse her child.
The dawning light outlines,
colors the eastern hills.
The deep blue water
of the hidden bay
captures pieces of sun,
washes them to the golden beach.
White boats beginning their journey asea,
casting their nets at arms’ length.
Across the bay,
behind the hills,
the tat-tat-tat of drums,
the chorus of trumpets—
morning review at the military base.
In a white church tower,
a bare-backed man
pulls the chords of four bells.
Their tones clang
over the village.
A cool breeze drifts
through windows, through hair,
Palm fronds sway
in the growing,
—a poem for two or more voices
We boarded before 8 a.m.
I rested my head on the window pane
& drifted off to the hustling
of the other passengers.
Over on Track Nº 2 awaits a fancy
dark green, brass-railed car
for the President’s rare use.
It gleams in the rising sun.
On the third track is an old black &
silver steam locomotive—
Nº 30127, still used in Western movies
My sleep is disturbed by several
federales checking identifications.
I yearn to be in this desert landscape …
Sometime, someplace in Guanajuato state,
a woman came aboard with
one-liter soda bottles of pulque.
The sour-cactus smell drifts
heavier & heavier through the car.
We pass by a trash dump.
Nine men, women & children
sort through it.
This slow train stops at every village
marked by a station
or a sign aside the tracks.
The desert sings to me …
Oh, what is a Mexican train ride
Earlier a guitarist played harmonica
between his sung verses
& now a young man plays accordion,
singing in a strong alto voice.
Large cumulus clouds tower into the sky.
Just south of Las Palomas
lie the ruins of a church.
It is now raining in the western desert.
I am awakened by our train
braking to allow another to pass.
Rain streaks my window.
Thunder rumbles through this closing afternoon.
As we enter San Luis Potosí,
we clatter over flooded streets.
The roof of a car is just visible
above the water.
A semi-rig sinks.
The ground is mounded with a thick,
snowy layer of pea-sized hail.
The sun begins to break out west.
As we leave this city,
beneath an underpass
a group of people push
cars to shallower water.
Nighttime in the vestibule.
An Austrian, Roland,
His Mexican friend, Roberto
& I talk with a railroad worker.
He tells us that come next year,
there probably won’t be
any more passenger service.
US freight companies are buying
El Regiomontano has already been privatized.
He turns to Roland and me.
—It belongs to you.
—It doesn’t belong to me,
Roland corrects him.
He stares at me with squinting eyes
—Then it belongs to you.
His finger points inches from my breast.
—No, sir, it doesn’t belong to me, either,
nor do I get any benefit from it.
They happen to be companies of the
country in which I was born.
He forces the issue.
—Look, sir. I had nothing to do with that decision
any more than you did.
It would be like me saying
the policies of the government
of your country
—Yes, it would be like saying
Salinas was you,
Roberto says, jumping into the fray.
The railroad worker makes a few
before stalking off.
Roland, Roberto & I talk for a while
about who we allow to reign—
the corporations and their governments,
or we ourselves.
Then we fall into silence, watching the night.
Off in the far east sky, clouds
pulse with pink lightning.
In the long hours of darkness we come to Saltillo.
The bitter smell of industry fills the air,
its sickening orange glow
just on this side of the horizon.
Out in the nighttime desert,
I awaken to the sunrise.
We haven’t yet made it to Monterrey.
Its passengers are still on this train.
We sit for hours on a stretch of single track.
The beauty of this desert awes me.
Its eastern mountains are cloaked
by the cloudy sky.
The bright yellow sun-ball
burns through, burns through.
We begin again slowly
passing by a ghost town.
Behind the abandoned primary school,
a swing set creaks.
Adobe buildings are almost
one with the earth.
The gentle wind promises more rain.
Rocking fast past Monterrey’s
familiar saw-tooth mountains.
Their bone-white rock shimmers
in the sun.
& in the early afternoon north of there—
for how long, I do not know—
we are stopped in the middle of nowhere.
The wind gusts through the desert plain
gusts at times to a howl.
Distant mountains lie hidden in haze.
Burnished yucca display bouquets
of white flowers.
The Nuevo Laredo station is just within view.
But here we are stuck,
hour upon hour,
by a US freight train passing
through the border.
It inches forwards
blocking our train
from the streets leading
into town, towards the border.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Lorraine Caputo has literary pieces in over 90 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America Europe and Asia, such as Drumvoices Revue, Canadian Dimension, ENcontrARTE (Venezuela), A New Ulster (Northern Ireland) and Open Road Review (India). Her works also appear in seven poetry chapbooks, ten anthologies and five audio recordings, including Latina Nights / Noches Latinas (Dimby, 2000). She also pens travel pieces, with works appearing in the anthologies Drive: Women’s True Stories from the Open Road (Seal Press, 2002) and Far Flung and Foreign (Lowestoft Chronicle Press, 2012). In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose her work, “Snow Dreams,” as the poem of the month. Upcoming publications include poems in The Pavilion (September 2013) and the Human Rights Poetry Anthology of the Human Rights Consortium of the School of Advanced Study, University of London (October 2013). She has done more than 200 readings from Alaska to Patagonia. Ms Caputo continues journeying through the southern reaches of the hemisphere, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.
Artist: Jane Gilday
Watchful Woman, Observant Woman, Wary Woman
Acrylic on panel