Magazine article World Literature Today

Elevation of a Port (an Excerpt)

Magazine article World Literature Today

Elevation of a Port (an Excerpt)

Article excerpt

xxxviii

Then they landed in large pastures, light aircrafts

of gringo registration

from which somber blonde men descended

armed with hypodermic needles

And in gloved assault they inoculated

foot-and-mouth disease in the cattle that grazed

peacefully there

or drank noisily from creeks and springs

filled with acamayas

and fish flashing showy scales

Back when the whole expanse of incense

was called Rancho El Copalar

And water from the hills circulated

straight into the cistern

through the channel or from the eaves' moldy gargoyles

perched on the roof at the height of the loft

from which sprouted each evening - like spit

from a dirty blowpipe -

black bats

that had slept all day

hanging headlong off the beams

And with courage they found their way in the navy blue sky

dodging by chirping

the tangled branches of a rough

purple-fruited caimito palm

risen up by the house covered with clay

Windmills and a great racket of voices

celebrated in the trapiches

where cahuayotes, grapes of the beach,

cocoaplums and coyol palms grew

And yokes were pulled by oxen

and enormous moos moved the trapiches

all through the day and the whole blessed week

And cane juice spurted

pressed by men squinting

And the bustle was viscous like the gum rendered

after boiling large vats of cane syrup

And the hall was always surrounded by clay molds

where the panela took its form - those whole-cane brown sugar cakes

my sister and I ate

with slices of queso fresco

up in the lofts -

oh thieves of delight! …

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