By Doug Tanoury
In Merida there are arches everywhere, Grand openings to fine vistas and Simple entryways of more mundane places, Some monolithic apertures in stone walls, Others flying entrances, lifted aloft by columns: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Mexicano. An arch is the softest of openings and The most perfect portal for moving Through the hard divisions in life, Between spaces separated by function, Opening one into another without the Broken and jagged edges of lines. A city gate that rises high above the street Frames lanes of taxis and city buses with its Classical Roman form as if to confer Some type of imperial order on the crazy And crowded tangle of traffic that passes Through its arch like a cavalcade of Vandals. In Merida all entrances and exits are done With classical flourish, and all mistakes Are mitigated by an architectural order, As everything that passes through an arch Appears more refined and even the most Incongruous spirit emerges more perfect.
La Ermita de Santa Isabel
At the end of Calle 66 where the street turns from pavement to red bricks that rise and fall slightly in shallow swells like the sea and lead to the little church with a simple Spanish facade raised up high on a pediment surrounded by tall palms, I sit crowded in a narrow wooden pew for Sunday Mass on May mornings when it is hot and my shirt sticks to me as I sweat all the sinfulness out my pores and my vices drip slowly from my brow to land on hands folded in prayer, As I pray for the coolness of God’s mercy and I ask that He judge me in Spanish, although all my sinning has been done In English, for I know that His Spanish judgment will be more merciful and the most forgiving.
Breakfast at Banamex
Wearing a tight black dress and Very high heels with sharp pointy toes, The woman standing in line says: “Huevos Rancheros.” The sounds the words make as she says them are sexy. “The oven must be very hot,” Says a woman in a white huipile Standing behind her, “At least 500 degrees.” “Celsius?” A man in a navy blue business suit standing in front of the woman wearing the tight black dress and Very high heels with sharp pointy toes asks, And a woman in a grey dress standing in front of him hisses “Idiota” and slaps him on his belly. There is laughter up and down the line. “You must use tortillas de masa” a woman's voice says From the front of the line. She is out of sight near the bank teller’s windows. The line is long now and loops, twists and snakes back upon itself and there is a man in a red guayabera near the end of the line that is standing Across from the woman wearing the tight black dress and Very high heels with sharp pointy toes, And he says, and it is not quite certain, But he seems to be talking to someone Who is not there or perhaps to himself: “Breakfast is the saddest meal to eat alone. It says so much about you, like your lover has left you. You sleep alone at night. You have no one.” The woman wearing the tight black dress and Very high heels with sharp pointy toes looks at the floor and Pretends she does not hear the man wearing the red guayabera. The line falls silent and no one speaks. A teller through a window calls, “Next! Siguiente por favor!
Moment in the Garden
In the garden There is Moonlight in the palms, And music Playing, The strum of one Guitar string Held for a Moment On the air, Your finger Against my skin-- A small Beaded blue lizard Resting on a leaf.
In April we watch the palms backlit against the purple sky Of a tropical twilight, when the nights grow hot, the air Heavy and so thick that seconds slow and some are Entirely skipped like an elusive arrhythmia of the heart. In our coming together, parting is implied, as when one says: “Creature that lives” at the same time says: “Creature that will die” Although unstated, it is understood fully, especially on hot nights \ When time comes to a full stop and begins a backward flow, Slowly at first in the initial momentum that overcomes the inertia Of an object at rest, then moving more rapidly it picks up speed To the point where my hands are leaving her breast, our embrace Breaking, lips parting and the space between our bodies growing, As we find ourselves speeding apart, two galaxies in and ever Expanding universe, our footsteps fall more faintly as we move Farther away and the sound of our voices diminish to a distant Whisper, like a breeze in the palms, before attenuating into silence.
One thought on “Five Merida Poems”
I really enjoyed the travel poems…especially enjoyed the poem about arches…