Wednesday, January 16, 2008

La doña de Valdivia

On the journey from Pucón, a world-weary man
Can only just see that the geese have plumes quite strange
To his North American eye;

Their tangerine beaks, too, serve as reminders that
A battle rages though he has for a brief time
Managed a respite --to gather;

She is at the station with her plaintive offer
Of a room, a room and a comfortable home
A place to feel welcome, wanted;

Her proper dress, motherly pride, and simple smile:
She, too, has worries and is in need of kindness;
Solitude, old age, await her;

Sleepy Valdivia cradles the two for now
With needed ease of warm sleep untroubled by dreams
That will only die anyway;

It is nearly Christmas; solstice stretches the days;
Los lobos del mar sleep in the sun and then swim
Gobbling fish while the strange geese float;

The Catholic girls playing music in the square--
They laugh when he cheers; they're too shy to meet his grin;
For a time, he likes being strange;

Three days pass like the glory of a well-spent youth
And he must board the south-bound bus for Puerto Montt;
She goes with him to the station;

She must find a new tenant for the empty room;
He must begin his journey back to the front line;
She smiles, waving as the bus leaves;

Her kindness and understated desperation
Leave an indelible mark on his lonely heart:
She is running...waving...smiling...

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