Amigos de las Americas had a tremendous impact on my life. I worked with the nonprofit as a Volunteer in Azuay, Ecuador (1990), in Lempira, Honduras as a Field Supervisor (1993), as an Assistant Project Director in El Oro, Ecuador (1996), and as a Project Director in Villarrica, Paraguay (1998).
i found myself remembering
all the other feeble days
when time stood still, when
a single room, a single bed
was everything. Between
shivers and coughs, the
twilight space, sickness,
where body and mind journey
in dreams, but go nowhere.
This suffering carries with it
the magic of surrendering
to forces that determine
temperature and strength,
outside of human will and
control. And when this lasts
for night after night, a voice
calls out, don’t fight, don’t fight.
And when we give in
life always begins again.
Cacophony, extreme hair dryer,
like a mini-flamethrower, spews
forceful air, a migraine’s
soundtrack, droning into ears.
I want to speak truth
to dust particles and men
(and they are always men), who
spray leafy bits into my face, only to
stop briefly when they see me,
shirt over my nose, while
I tell my legs, get away, get away.
Unfocused thoughts vacillate between
mucus and tired eyes, looking at the
world wondering what it thinks of my
red nose, slight cough, imperfection of
clogged ears, making sound seem far
away. I try to embrace this present
that aches slightly with longing for
the past or future, far from the now of
Do I have a fever?
Face flushed, obsessed with what ifs.
What if this lasts until Monday?
What if I’m permanently ill?
So many are, in cancer wards reading
words about my cold, laughing.
They look in the large mirror,
at biceps or red faces huffing,
breathing during squats or lunges,
shouldered weights pressing
gravity, reps into struggling flesh,
trick a body into staying young,
aging less, iron lifting medicine
like swallowing Omega-3 pills
to keep it all going. They worry
about who might be watching
contours, smooth, hard, flabby,
sagging skin or calves that pop.
They stay indoors listening to loud
music staring at reflections wanting
to halt time, be bigger, be stronger.
As if it were so simple, forgetting
that real strength is invisible, it dwells
But for them it is easier to put it on
Instagram, pretend, pretend, pretend.