The Cycles of Life
There, lifeless, waiting at the front door. The way his legs were stiffened and his mouth wide open told me his final moment was unpleasant. When I looked into his eyes what had once been my dog had gone far, far away the moment his heart stopped. What I saw was just a corpse;
what was he was no longer he.
I found him there coming home from work,
after digging out a foundation all day in the same kind of soil his corpse now rests
Petrona saw him last, about to vomit on my bed. She took him outside,
where he would eventually die.
Gaspar and I buried him in some jungle near my casita, all I could say was
Los cicolos de la vida
All we could do was sort of laugh, kind of.
He’d refused to eat for days, the explanation always the same
Poison Tortillas or a chicken bone.
The only way dogs seem to die in Guatemala.
We lit a candle at the altar for his return journey home
and life went on.
Construction is a ritual, the domain of family and neighbors. All the men work:
The sons stand close to their fathers (To learn what they will someday pass on to their children)
The older men oversee
The older women overrule them.
The women and children paint and clean
There is always someone preparing lunch
Pepian de Pollo con tortillas; always the same.
Everything is from the earth, including us, the timber, the bamboo, the mud brick, the palm, the soil we dig out, and the fruit we eat off the trees.
Everything else is bought from a friend of a friend,
dropped off on the side of the road past the cornfield on the edge of the village;
everything is carried on our backs.
Tommorow, when I tell everyone
they will pause for a moment and say:
Poison tortillas or a chicken bone
And the work will go on.
When the dead are just as alive as the living
When death is just as much a part of life as the living,
there is no reason to wonder why?
I remember the first time I saw him, in my casita eating my food. He just stood there after I chased him out, waiting in my doorway, just waiting to be let back in. He did this for days,
and I did. At first just for food,
then only when the afternoon rains came in
then only to nap in my bed when I was gone
then only because it was his home.
Petrona and I called him Amarillo because we didn’t know what else to call him.
It was more of description than a name, until it became his name.
A name he never learned to recognize, though he did learn
Comida and No.
A part of me knew that Amarillo knew that he knew he was going to die.
He lay in my arms, almost lifeless, for many nights.
All he wanted was a little comfort
While he got on with it.