in the south where the days hang back to back and come at a person too many and too thick
and the women slump dead at their station
down there between Colón and Rayón
where the flies hold dominion
the witch goes after her business
her fat dog strung into silence by the neck
patient as bones
she smells of the sea and the fish she peddles
but the cat won’t go near her as singing
she takes a needle to my ribs
she’s making a sutra to the new
singing of a day when the world spun the other way
and she worked the capital
black hair swinging blue past her arse
i was good at it she says and snaps the thread
(there won’t be a going back)
and if you want you can look to where she looks over her shoulder
and into the past and the face of a trick
he bucks and squeals like a stuck pig
wild for her boyish ass
wild for her boyish dick
wild for oh oh oh Perlita
oh she cackles and her teeth spark gold
i was good at it
the faces of her grandmother and her great grandmother and something other not human nor even animal flit across her like shades on a mountain
she might be ten thousand as well as fifty
and her hands move strong as thought
do you have a friend who died ?
i look into my past and see no one
you will she says and laughs
a thing we can be sure of
and if you look up in the night when every fan screams maximum
you will see her high across the face of an egg yolk moon
moving along the invisible line the spider makes
spilling from her tattered baskets the pearls of turtle eggs
the tumbling shard a shark’s fin
the illegal she takes door to door
buying passage for the ones who’ve dropped the thread
who’ve lost the place
who’ve found themselves on their knees holding nothing but the sickness of their need to leave all this behind
to take in both trembling hands the thing she offers
and what I say when her back is turned and i’m holding out the red pouch – bones and hay and skin – she’s dropped inside my palm
what do i do with this ?
but she’s already gone singing about a mountain she’s known since she was a girl
the one which walks from place to place looking always sideways for a home
and the sea goes with her
and the song goes with her
and the gate clangs shut as
outside the women are coming to
shaking sensible slumbering children
brushing flies from sticky mouths
crying out their wares again: tamales tamales
comes the rumble as time re-starts
and in my hand the lightest gleam of gossamer
i pull
it pulls back faint and frightening
i don’t know where i am going or at what cost
she alone has both sides of the bargain
but i am going