high beam light
high beam light
I once had
to choose between
dinner, potatoes, maybe
a steak, or
art. The food
salty with skin
drips of sauce
or Goya’s bulging
eyes. I only
had enough money
for one or
the other, before
flying back to
Dulles. You may
have guessed it
but El Greco
had his way
with shadows, that
light in darkness
and me hungry.
They worry about me in pounding wind,
that I might collapse, my weight crushing
fence, roof, windshield. It never crosses
their mind that I might be dancing, green
leaves, trunk, thump-shaking, swaying.
That this is my journey song, while roots
hold tight. Air my music, feel it move, groove,
and yes, one day I will topple this glory.
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.