Published: February 6th 2020
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I leave rising from the plains burning dry heat a landscaped apron of mango trees stretched drum tight under smoking volcano Fuego his sister Agua their brother Acatenango west wind raising a loose horsetail of pumice dust from Acatenango’s flank rust colored against turquoise the gouged once molten rivered mountainside is etched deep trampled glowing red they lied when they told us who is buried here was it 200 hundred no senor it was certainly 2000 mas mas they lie to us here but we know who did not come home that night never came home that morning the truth is washed away when they spray the cobbled streets with precious water while people here are waterless the cane fields burn behind me the armless man waits and I shake his stump and say good morning my friend are you well and he says here I am and the legless woman lies flat on her back shaking her cup rattling coins like bones but look there is a perfect women in a red huipile her baby in a blanket wrapped like a market bundle a backpacked six year old walking up to my wooden square table my cup a floating heart frothed in there and he’s selling chocolate kisses and I don’t buy one but they give him and his little sister the glass of water they asked for from the barista and they tip it so high as to get the very last drop out of that clear glass and they leave hand in hand saying gracias as they walk into the cobbled heat while mortars explode welcoming in some new necktied mayor while across from me an old Marine with a whiskered cat in his cup jumps and jerks with each celebratory whump as if someone has stuck him with a long hatpin but then again someone certainly has whump and again whump and twice more his body jerks while smoke rises from the volcano and in here there is hissing like the sound from a sparking fuse.

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6th February 2020

Both writing and photography capture the bifurcated culture - at once rich and poor - of a beloved town. Gracias!

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