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Panajachel, Guatemala
Al Chisme



I have a copy of a photograph
that is in a file with my fingerprints in Guate
like many here from somewhere else
I am thinner--
here in Panajachel I have seen the too-long belts
cinched tight
it is common and clear
that many view themselves
in a different light
in a different life

... ... ...

With all due respect
I have seen those living here
glad to be away from where they were born
with all due respect
I have seen clearly
those who work hard and are worn
I have seen cayucos on Atitlán
bailing water to stay afloat
I have seen the hucksters on Pana's shore
who lie to you because they want more
I have seen hunger and wealth
generosity and intolerance in Santiago
I have seen vendors in Panajachel
who would never walk the pathways of San Pedro
I have bargained with a child-mother for a photograph
telling her the price was a Quetzal, not two
as she breast fed her infant on a commuter boat--
she sat and smiled into my high-tech lens

Lago de Atitlán is a sight to behold
where clouds make beards on the volcano tops
yes, I have seen with a different eye
an extraordinary beauty in the landscape
and in dusty paths of pueblitos

With all due respect
there are many of us here from a richer world
with all due respect
we are a flock of different birds

let us sing
let us pray this freedom we find here
won't go away
let us sing a song
that plays those symphonies we pray for
where beauty never
not ever
turns away