Rio Sapo, El Salvador

 

Walking the sun up, slowly,

toward the river --

 

Down from dawn shadows of adobe houses and tall corn,

And by thin, brown men going past

with little sound

into their days

 

Down past the slopes of stony soil and sheltering trees

And by orchids held small and pale

on a lonely, strong branch

 

Then, standing in thin flip flops

skirt tucked between knees

The twist and wring rhythm

punctuated

by the slap of soaked cotton across wet rock

 

Later, clothes scattered out to dry -

phantom-armed shirts outstretched,

pants, one ghost knee crooked across the other

-look like forgotten things

 

Lifting the clay jug for the walking up,

And the pause, look ahead, steady the shirring weight of water,

as familiar as the river flowing

toward dusty fields of corn and men,

toward the sea of the souls of women

 

Jennifer Hughes