South America

The Devil´s Nose

I take the bus to sleepy Alausí to ride the train named after the Devil´s nose.
I wonder where it will take me and if the Devil has had plastic surgery to improve his pose.

The man sitting next to me engages in conversation, the first meaningful one I´ve had all day.
He never asks me if I am married or have a boyfriend,
¨Mucho gusto,¨ he tells me, ¨Un placer,¨ I say.

I go to dinner with two girls from France,
as we eat CNN headlines do a song and dance.
¨30 muertos from Hurricane Sandy,¨ they say,¨mostly from New York.¨
Tomorrow is the Day of the Dead, but I don`t think we`ll be popping the cork.

I awake in the middle of the night to a crashing sound.
My bed has broken, the mattress now slopes towards the ground.
I try to fix it, to make an appeal but it just keeps breaking.
I know how it feels.

I awake again to the noise of buses honking as church bells chime.
I listen closely to hear the rhyme, but half-way through their song
they have forgotten the time.

I turn on the small tv in my room,
the news anchor is talking about elections in the States,
more doom and gloom.

I can`t believe my eyes, surely there are more newsworthy things to discuss than our messy political wars and our lies? I flip the channel hoping to change what I see, searching for something bigger than the U.S. of We.

What about a war on poverty and shame? What of bigotry, inequality and human pain?
The death tolls rise daily, the casualties unnamed.
The silent headlines speak a piercing truth, ¨We are not to blame.¨

I discovered why it is called the Devil`s Nose.
2,500 Jamaican workers dead,
the Condors for which the mountain is named have fled.

The Devil`s nostrils breathed fire and dynamite; destruction came
but power, capital, and wealth increased in might.

Another life lost in the earth-shattering blow,
no matter, commerce from Guayaquil to Quito will flow.

The Devil's Nose

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