I pause when
light looks like
white tufts, airy clouds
barely covering sun
I stand in awe
gazing upwards at
all we can’t know
alive, this moment
My favorite dream was when I flew,
as bird or angel, ethereal, I never saw
halo or feathers, or looked at myself in
a mirror, only knew that I could soar high
up in clouds, skim over fields or shingled
rooftops, able to control all this grace.
So I floated back to Taylor Elementary,
hovered by a window, staring at kids writing
in their 6th grade classroom, when I saw him,
a boy I recognized, holding a #2 pencil,
tongue slightly out, concentrating, filling
up notebook lines. I watched for a long while,
then realized he was me.
Sitting shotgun in a truck, 3 of us squeezed in the front (Cayo, Ernesto, Me), no seat belts, sipping yerba mate. I’m speaking Spanish, asking questions about recycling plastic and filtering water with chlorine. Cayo drives, points his finger up at the windshield, motioning to each vehicle we pass on the two lane Caazapa highway. Yvaga, he says, cielo, heaven. That’s where you will go when you die, his finger silently communicates. Watching this ritual I see the other drivers smiling at us, their fingers also pointing upward, telling us the same thing.
Cayo asks me about California. The Paraguayan campo has no cable TV, no CNN, no movie theaters. He doesn’t question me about celebrities or our president, he asks about the land, trees, animals, what the air smells like, feels like. I tell him about non-native eucalyptus trees, how they suck water out of the earth, take nourishment away from other plants. He understands. The conversation is easy, like the cumulus clouds that float like cotton above us.
Ernesto speaks and at first I think I comprehend, the cadence sounds the same, but then I’m lost in a time before Spanish, before South American roads. I close my eyes for a few seconds, a lightness takes over. I’m hearing a Guarani language not of an evangelizing church or of plundering capitalism, but of a people, a community. A few minutes later we slow down, pick up a hitchhiker, normal in this part of Paraguay. I see the guy sitting in the truck bed, a large heavy sack between his legs. A man on a journey, we both watch the road, I look out the front, he looks out the back.
BIG thanks to WestWard Quarterly for publishing Wait for the Rain.