Guatemala Intermezzo

By Connie Wieneke

At intermission the concert hall empties. Small bats
swing between shadows the woman cannot see.
Not far off her son stands alone. He waits. She waits for him
to ask any question about anything she can answer.

The bus swerved. She gave up counting small trucks, goats,
women bundled as colorful bags. Her son gripped her leg.
She can tell him a bus stops faster than anyone opens
their mouth to say “Oh” or “Please.” The infinite sound

the guns made catches her throat. Like acid reflux, like a disease
she’d not believed in. She beckons her son. Somewhere
the brochure’s village of weavers waits. What prayer
can carry them past the people they used to be? She crumbled

macaroons and sleep in her pocket’s seams. The girl
with a napkin-lined basket wouldn’t say what they were,
other than “sweet.” She must have practiced English like scales.
“How do you say, ‘How do you wash blood from cloth?’?”

The woman meant to learn the names of everything before
the trip. The sweat of her regret smells like bottled sauce
they’d slopped on beans at a hotel shuttered lime green.
Improbable trees still wall the road’s dusty edge.

August 1998-March 2013

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Categories: Issue 5, Poetry | Leave a comment

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