Motor groaning through a muffler that’s more like
a microphone, this village jalopy lurches and rocks,
rattling along at a jaunty burro’s pace.
Both hands clutching the luggage rack,
I sway in the crowded aisle.
We standing hover like sulky ghosts
above those with seats, the lucky ones
complacently oblivious to us.
The young man I’m hanging over is
in another world, transported there
by a pocket-size comic book.
I can’t follow the dialogue balloons,
but I don’t need a dictionary to translate
the pictures: a man and a woman,
gravely prim in Gay 90s high-fashion,
stroll in a park, blotting out the scenery
with their conversation, sentences
that dwindle to phrases as they walk along
and end with the woman’s
“¡¿Que — ?!”
as the man grabs her into his arms.
In the last panel her parasol is falling
as she, grabbing him back, surrenders to his kiss.
Behind them there’s a question mark encased
in a halo like a saint.
Naturally, I’m eager for the page to turn,
but my page-turner turns around instead, kissed
by something he just remembered.
Peering worriedly past my hip, he asks: “¿Está bien?”
I look under my arm at a couple across the aisle
perched on the edge of their seat,
arms draped over the seat in front
to brace the shoulders of their twins,
identically pretty little girls,
their light-brown skin and straight black hair
made even lovelier by identical pink dresses.
Their closed eyes and drooping heads answer well enough.
“Está bien,” the man mutters, sheepishly,
and settles back to his comic book.
The parents, evidently his guests, stretch their necks,
holding Mona Lisa smiles over the heads
of their sleeping beauties. I smile, too,
feeling less like a ghost now than
I’m still feeling a bit ethereal
when I get off the bus, alone.
It’s a quarter mile to the house, on another dirt road,
passing prickly pear and century plants,
behind them cornfields —
bucolic mess of stubble and piled-up stalks.
In the plain light of day
it’s a hard landscape to like, close-up.
But twilight has erased thorns, manure, dead animals,
the trash in the roadside ditch. What’s more
the chalky dust that covers everything
has become a faint, silvery luminescence,
thanks to the moon, just-risen above the eastern rim of hills.
A nearly full moon, amazingly large,
in an equally incredible, peacock-blue sky.
I’m enchanted, of course, but also
mocked by skeptical detachment.
Meaning to be wisely wry,
I ask the moon:
The question boomerangs.
The sleeping child is mine.
Pure stupid joy pours in.
It’s only for a now that won’t last long, but
wake up, wake up.