These photos tell the story as well. Click on the first and then on the arrows to enlarge.
Daydream of an Expat in Mexico
The cupped palms of Mexico
fold around me.
It is one of the warm months,
with flowers popping out of their coats
like brightly-clad party guests.
Candy apple red plumeria
somehow avoids clashing
with the purple bougainvillea
that has encroached upon its borders,
and one silly Gerber daisy bows her head
near the steps between the dining room and patio.
My life is here around me.
A dining room table echoes the ghosts
of former Thanksgiving guests.
Solar Xmas lights strung around the kitchen walls near the ceiling
decide to turn on in the day instead of night.
A lizard minus half his tail
disappears into the jungle of ferns next to the kitchen door.
The lazy cats curl in apostrophes,
dreaming of catching the whole lizard next time.
Painted vines that will never curl up and die
twine around doors and entryways.
Teo Mixtli Xicualli, brave lake goddess,
in the nicho over the garage,
and Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent
who lies stretched out over my bedroom sliders—
are my guardians.
On the street, the shredded bag and scattered garbage the dogs got to before the garbagemen— something to attend to today in this time of cancelled responsibilities.
It is a conspiracy, perhaps,
to draw me from my door,
necessitating street clothes
and the full requirement of undergarments.
We have gone wild in this time of confinement,
misplacing blow dryers and mascara wands,
letting body parts fall to their natural places
under clothes looser and more diaphanous than before.
Last night’s dream was of the camaraderie of teenage slumber parties,
bodies pressed close like puppies
in sleeping bags on the backyard grass
or the half-finished basement,
walking arm in arm
down the middle of the gravel streets
in our pajamas, in pre-dawn empty darkness,
having stayed up all night.
Outside my window,
Diego barks an answer
to the loquacious neighborhood dogs
barking at a rare passing car,
and I put a stop to it.
I imagine Miguel Valverde, my house’s architect,
cruising by in the early morning beauty
and seeing what I’ve done to his beautiful house
that looks sculpted from clay. Bright colors. Lush plants.
Tattoos in places that seemed to me created for embellishment—
In the nichos, around the nicho-shaped doors,
along raised strips under the domes around the outside of the house,
I have finished what he began,
or, rather, I am in the act of finishing,
for as in nature, as one thing is completed,
another begins to fade.
Once more I live with animals
like those of the “Old Mother West Wind” stories
read to me by my father.
That one crafty remaining possum
who taunts the dogs
subs for Paddy the Beaver.
Reddi the squirrel has gone gray.
“The bees is buzzing from flower to flower today,”
my four-year-older sister dictated in a letter written to my mother
by my older sister the day I was born.
They still buzz, dear sister, here
1,700 miles to your south, as they buzz everywhere
once Mother Nature nods her head.
But today’s round of bad news
shoulders its way like a bully onto my screen,
reminding me that lately the mother and teacher of us all
has raised her hand,
slapping us into subservience to her rules.
So long as the recalcitrant bad boys in the back
continue to threaten to flaunt her rules,
until they comply, she warns,
the whole class will be punished.
The dunce in the corner wags his
orange jowls, flapping his flyaway
mop in the breeze from his senseless words.
I walk away from memories and the news,
down a small street like an alleyway in my mind
where an artist stands painting a mural
of the Virgin Mary surrounded by animals—
these creatures of earth not human
who still obey the rules of nature,
teach us a lesson.
I venture out to deal with my detritus, now scattered
half way down the block by wind and animals,
risk bougainvillea thorns to retrieve and stuff it into a plastic garbage bag,
rescue wads of paper towels compacted into gullies between the paving stones, run a race with the wind to reclaim rolling pet food cans.
Then, believing my efforts done, I turn to survey that beauty restored:
the cobblestones shadowed by
the Royal Poinciana
and littered by the paper leaves of Bougainvillea.
And see among them
the crumpled pages
of a cast-off poem
blown down the road
for half a block or more,
and so I venture farther
to deal with my mistakes.
And, once done with this task,
as though requiring more exercise,
my mind keeps walking northward
until it hits a wall.
“Keep out,” it says. “Stay in your own country.”
I do. I stay in Mexico.
For NaPoWriMo 2020, Apr 26 we were to fill out a questionnaire and write a poem based upon it. Here is the questionnaire:
Found on the Street:
Outside your window, you find:
Today’s news headline:
Scrap from a letter:
Animal from a myth:
Story read to children at night:
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find:
You walk to the border and hear:
What you fear:
Picture on your city’s postcard: