by Debra Kraft
Just off the town square -- a tidy
square of white washed walls dominated
in the east by a towering, white church,
its bells so green and thick they cough,
hour after searing hour in regular scorching fits --
there is a place that calls silently
to unwary travelers, to gringos
who smile like children,
to the warning in the six o’clock cough:
The sun fades.
So while the townsfolk pay heed, the
travelers still come. They come looking
for adventure, for local culture, for
They come far off the main road to find
quaint, cobblestone streets, narrow and tight.
The drive is unpleasant. Still they come.
But the restaurant has closed, respecting
that six o’clock cough; there is just one
man sweeping. Chairs are up off the floor;
service is done for the day.
And so the travelers wander, walking
around that square, that tight, tidy square,
until they stumble upon a welcome fountain,
its bubbling waters a reprieve from the heat,
so cool, so pleasant, so
Drawn in by the fountain they can almost ignore
the dead man stuck on the wall,
like a piece of art,
mummified remains of someone from
some-when, a mummy borne of time,
product of the weather or other forces
unknown to our travelers.
They find it disturbing, alluring and
And so they venture inside.
They capture a corner, a small open room
where the lime trees almost reach in and
roosters crow from the gulley below.
And in their corner they drag rough hewn tables
together, scrape heavy log chairs, petrified
chairs across the dry, wooden floor as they
gaze at the décor, at the white walls dripping
with red, with blood-red
– “Like a scene from Helter Skelter,” someone jests,
jokes, laughs –
and at the candles, thick globs of melted
wax clinging to the railings, waiting
for the night, for the dark, for whatever
the good people of town will wait out
behind locked doors.
And our travelers joke and laugh and begin to
Growing nervous, they order nothing
more than bottled beer
and a side of nachos.
Outside, the sun begins to set.
A lone cowboy casually rides
across the cobblestones,
his face hidden in shadows.
Inside, the candles are lit.
And all eyes fall upon the travelers
as the regulars begin gazing, joking,
laughing at these fresh, new
pieces of art.