Barrio Maximo Jerez: A Poem

Your first morning will come by way
of the neighbor’s rooster. Doña Luz will
fry you some breakfast before you leave

the barrio for wherever you plan on going.
Don’t ask her if she needs anything.
She will. Also, do your own laundry.

If you accept her offer to wash clothes for you,
the price will go up every week until
you finally have to refuse. She will walk you

to where this barrio spills into another.
Don’t look up at the drunks on the corners
when they say chelita bonita in a low voice,

be thankful it’s a compliment and keep moving.
Luz will remind you her name and the name
of this place, so you can find your way back-

pass, if you get dengue fever, it will pass.
Chloroquine is bound to cause strange dreams,
try and enjoy them and if you dream the ground

is bouncing, that you’ve been asleep for weeks
and it has rained the entire time and the wind
is threatening to take you, you were never

asleep, go back to sleep. Under some heaviness
your bones are bending slowly, the days are passing
quickly and with little distinction, your reasons

for following this map less like the promise
of knowing and more like becoming lost
under the bright, unyielding lights of the grocery

store is now, is this moment swung, only
to be lifted and pushed by the next, the string
of longing always knotted to stop

way before you could have wandered so far.
And you are untethered
and there are eyes behind which

you cannot see, and you will not know
what it is like for some people, your mind
now the sparkling on the edges

of the walls around the patio where Luz
cemented broken glass, clear, thick
sections of coke bottles reflecting sunlight

through green edges, a shard of mirror
where the rain slides off the zinc roof
and collects in the shallow roots

of the lime tree, and the murals there
are like nothing you’ve ever seen.
There are farmers working alongside god.

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