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Following Ghosts Through the Yucatán


Double headed jaguars settle on lattice

carved stone in a temple buried to the tips

of butterfly wings which is also where iguanas

stand in slow motion and bats and sparrows

whicker in corners and you can run your hands

on the moss thinking how tall the trees grow

woven with vines this far from home you are sure

you know about perpetual about the weight

of existence and otherwise about growth and decay

so you drive and keep driving through the rest

of the day to the veined city to the big market

brimming and vying with hedges of fruits

such cacophony all of a sudden such color you can’t

ignore the clacking chickens the mounds of iron

or the yoked goat in the corner but you go outside

through the arch where scorched women in crisp

white cotton fold legs bowed as gauge wire

under their bodies their tight ravaged bones

on a small square of pavement you can see

their old fingers devote to ripe oranges

you give your mind to the tang to the zest

as they strip rind and pleats of pith in ruffles

as they leave beads of juice for purchase you are

surrounded by detail the low defiant sun finds

its scope and you don’t know it then but

you will think about this for years and for years

you will want to shape the almost vanishing

into a poem it is these women who come to you

in sleep and the women at the church in Chiapas

who sloped forward with ten colors in their

throats and with chipped Christ dolls on bent

groaning hips but you still don’t know what

you need to say or what exactly you saw so

you sit with your daily scribbles in the desert

at home your mind pungent engrossed

with the images you sit and know nothing know

only that a body ages and mourns in the sinuous

motions toward death know you were lucky

to see it to linger on the street and in the jungle

and now you figure you might get to say that life

is a brink a blink a surface you land on you

might get to put it on paper

Lauren Camp