Poetry Month – April 9 – On the Altar

The Wolf of Monte Alban


This is the picture behind the picture:
I am the Anglo tourist wandering through
the world heritage site called Monte Ablan
He is a Mexican man sitting on a rock wall
My skin is pale yellow
His is weathered leather
By his feet are small sculptures of animals
All of them have long, large noses.
Like his, in fact.
Estan perros? I ask
He holds one up.
Es un lobo.
Vente pesos.
I put the big nosed wolf in my purse
He puts twenty pesos in his pocket.
He waits for the next tourist.
I drift off, through what was once the main plaza
of a long ago civilization.

Sometimes you have to let a poem go. (Particularly on Poetry Month) I keep wanting to say more. Or figure out what I’m trying to say. It’s something about walking through these ancient sites and experiencing a weird juxtaposition of being side by side to another time, of imagining another dark skinned sculptor selling his wares in 300 B.C.E. and maybe a lighter skin woman, passing through, buys a strange little figure to take home to remember that moment, that place. I don’t think civilizations and these small transactions have changed at all.