Gateway Accent

Drew had all sorts of effects on me, right from the start. He could get me to go on insane adventures I’d have flatly refused anyone else. Watching him charm the hell out of everyone around never stopped amazing me. Neither did the sex once I got all those people out of our hair. And my lord, that accent….

Gateway Accent

(for Drew)

This is the strangest country.
We break away from the tour the second day.
Women wearing mantillas and baking tortillas
Smile as they grant me an easy rhyme.
You buy a dozen, pay with dimples
For the jam of cactus fruit they slather on.
In the shade of a feed store we have breakfast.

The man who runs the cantina proudly calls you over
To show you a treasure: Whisky in a charred-oak barrel
Rolled into the cool crawlspace under the stairs.
¿Tienen sed? he asks: You have thirst?
We have. We’ve driven all morning in impossible dust.
He assesses how your shirt pulls taut across your shoulders,
Hands you a mallet and a wooden spigot.
Scots is a gateway accent, opening onto Spanish rrrs
And German ochs. Delighted with the roll and burr,
The owner pours out another toast each time I find you
The right word. We leave drunk in the late afternoon.

You clear the brush around a small concrete angel.
In payment for the picture I take, you find a rag
And wipe its weeping face and grubby hands.
¿Son familia? the man who let us in the gate asks.
I don’t have to translate: You say aye and I say si.
He nods in solemn approval of both answers and leaves us.

When I translate camas limpias for you, you laugh
And say it’s like advertising that there’s been only one
Case of cholera this week. We pay for a room,
Discover the patio’s cleaner. You wrap us in a blanket
From the trunk and we sit on terra cotta pavers,
The sunlight they hoarded soaking up through us.
You undress me under the blanket, under the moon,
Give me the ghosts of cactus fruit, whisky, and dust
From your lips in exchange for my panties.

(2013)

(photo: stock)

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