Spring2010

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A Tale of Travel

Poetry

A Small Village Outside Cordoba, Argentina

By Michelle Friedman

We needed no alarm in Cordoba the sun suffocating young skin making it leak long before consciousness. Lucid thought, sweat intermingling perpetually between buildings that will fall soon and roads that have not yet been destroyed by the modern hand beginnings and ends indistinguishable amidst the constant dust rise. Off the forever road each home not a house but a collapsible room of dark skin and items fetched from a dump smelling mostly the way mud dries after rain where on a corner whose name I never learned a man whose name I never learned blinded me from behind. I thought of me in the afterlife. Only moments before, I strode, in the way one does when they feel too safe in a dangerous place, towards school. Lighthearted, sweaty, small as my students, with today's lesson. "The parts of the body." Out in the school yard chickens got angry when the music got loud But the little Spanish girls yeaaaa, they showed me how to shake it. Ay mi encanta. What did it matter that, diapers didn’t exist or work urine running down the legs of small boys and girls. Or that people slept in piles, on the ground, cold and hard just Earth. Or that, their words were not my own. It always rained around the same time in the afternoon And I was becoming like natives, fearless, and damp. Truth is, I wasn’t them. Truth is, it was my fault for sticking around after the sun started to set. So when the punk Wearing 1970’s US export hand-me-downs handed me down into the dirt I should’ve known. You only have to turn the same corner the wrong way, once. Just when, the feeling left I remembered, I had loved this place. Dust, dirt and pain. Me? The afterlife? Did it matter that I came? Would it matter that now, I would go? All I know is that my student, a small girl, remained un-phased. Pasa todo el tiempo. The sun sank into hell with fiery red the implication of this event only the depth of countless muddied footprints in the dark. It happens, all the time. I’m a small girl. No one travels across continents and returns the same. No one forgets the way a night feels when darkness is not a choice where the sun dictates lives in the way it did where I am from, long ago. It is a concept that is forgotten in my world. It is this forgetting, that makes it so much better, and so much worse.

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