Like Hearing Your Name Called in a Language You Don’t Understand

Since the day the bell was cast

I have sat in the bishop’s carved chair and waited my turn

with my feet crossed at the ankles, and the leather of my huaraches

cutting into the hide of my foot.

From where I was sitting I watched the light being drawn off

the magnolias in the Plaza de Armas

while the voices of the others choired an evening.

I have risen to the lectern when the eyes of the host summoned.

I faced the great open doors as the faces of strangers
acknowledged their own losses.

I saw the white trousers of the vendor flapping in the dust

his body engulfed in balloons,

the children selling Chiclets dispersed;

the shoe shine boy putting away his brushes, the sum of his inheritance.

I have read what was written there, said, Gracias, and sat down again.

I have climbed the pyramidal steps and felt winded and humbled.

I have stood small and borracha and been glad
of not being thrown down the barranca alongside the pariah consul
in the celebrated book.

In every sense have I felt lonelier than a clod of clay, a whip, a bolsa,
a skull of chocolate.

I have been lured my host’s pellucid face and the blue salvia
where the rooster is buried.

Though I have worn the medal of the old town with forlorn pleasure
I say unto you:

     Comrades, be not in mourning for your being

     To express happiness and expel scorpions is the best job on earth.


From Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon Press, 2008) by C. D. Wright. Copyright @2008 by C. D. Wright. Used with permission of the author.