Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Cactus People

by Amit Parmessur

The wind with a tuna smell blows into their
faces as they look from behind rusty iron sheets.

In some eyes I can see a spark, an unwillingness to buy
a way out of poverty. I’m afraid of speaking to them,
these cactus people, as they never smile. Yet,
these silent, stoic people populate my dreams.

Each time I see them open their wooden gate it
seems I can overhear their bones crack.

The children in decrepit cars would lick
their lips to clean the deposits of the salty wind,
with furtive and inhospitable and indifferent looks.

When they cross the road they go about
like an anxious herd, never hand in hand, only looking
at each other once at the other side. They’re a
rare race. Their heels as shoes, their palms as gloves, their
skin as their clothes, they have a stomach of steel.

I know the secrets and contours of their language,
these cactus people, but they never smile.

Why they still have cacti everywhere around their
small houses? Does cactus have a
divine place in their uncivilization? They co-exist
with all the wealth of poverty,
occupying the harshest lands. Those bearded goats,
naked hens, proud roosters. It’s a shame,

as these cactus people were once my dear people.

It’s also true; no amount of expensive perfume has
removed that tuna smell lingering all over my soft face.
I can’t forget the red soil before and after cock fights.

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