Potosí

Look, the night doesn’t fall like a curtain
or rise from any ground. In fact,
it doesn’t move at all.
It’s still there, even in the heat of noon.

Ay, Carnival.
Fields of dog grass.

We pass through that black purse
like stones through a gizzard,
grinding against each other, a currency
no sooner earned than spent.
Our features fade, rubbed smooth.
Veins appear just under the skin.
Strands of silver.

Ay Carnival,
bald as a nickname.

Now more than ever, I am nothing you’d
care to save. But night still rattles
with the dreams of poor Indians,
in their hats & shawls like broody hens
unwilling to abandon the egg
that will never hatch.

Big overblown Carnival.

__________

Lines in italics are taken from Quechua folksongs collected by Jesús Lara and translated by Maria A. Proser and James Scully (Quechua Peoples Poetry, Curbstone Press, 1976).

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