Friday Poem

Guatemala: 1964

..for Loren Crabtree

The Maya-Quechua Indians plodding to market on feet
…. as flat and tough as toads were semi-starving
but we managed to notice only their brilliant weaving
…. and implacable, picturesque aloofness.
The only people who would talk to us were the village
…. alcoholic, who sold his soul for aguardiente,
and the Bahia nurse, Jenny, middle-aged, English-
…. Nicaraguan, the sole medicine for eighty miles,
who lord knows why befriended us, put us up, even took
…. us in her jeep into the mountains,
where a child, if I remember, needed penicillin, and
…. where the groups of dark, idling men
who since have risen and been crushed noted us with
…. something disconcertingly beyond suspicion.
Good Jenny: it took this long to understand she wasn’t
…. just forgiving us our ferocious innocence.

by. C.K. Williams
C.K. Williams Selected Poems
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994