Two Poems by Sandy Benitez
In Mexico City, the heat rises
like the dead. Unseen but felt
in quiet corners. Tourists crowd
the streets, snapping photos of
dancing senoritas and faceless
vendors moaning behind masks of
boredom. Stray dogs trail behind,
snarling over the largest scrap of bone,
marrow still intact. In an alleyway,
behind an iron gate, a tired maid
cradles a dead fetus. A scarlet river
drains into the gutter on the street.
Bloody footprints walk away from
the scene of the crime. Skeletal
bodies reach out to foreigners,
begging for coins, water, a piece of
salvation. Mad roosters pick at their
toes mistaking them for ears of corn.
While hens lay deformed eggs.
Shells cracking, spilling spicy red
yolk hot as lava. This is not the day
of the dead as seen in postcards
for sale in hotel gift shops or flyers
nailed to wooden cantina doors.
But it may as well be.
Grandma always wore knee-high
black socks to bed. She claimed
they kept her legs warm; short,
brittle bones resembling fragile
timbers that could crack
at the slightest awkward tilt.
Every morning, I helped her discard
the sweaty socks. Slowly peel them
off like snake skin. In the process,
grains of sand seeped from her toes,
sprinkling salt from their flesh covered
shaker. I thought it odd but blamed it
on her feet which were always traveling
with no direction. In the afternoons,
I would spot her rummaging through
linen closets and dresser drawers. I
reasoned it was due to her dementia.
Meanwhile, an hourglass sitting on her
nightstand tap danced to the music
of confusion. Knowing that it was only
a matter of time before the sand
would stop spilling. And the agony
of vertigo would finally end.