On the streets of Mérida, beggars and vendors
of shirts and hammocks and panama hats.
We perfect our no. But there's always something
we can't help saying yes to: I want to join
these men on holiday on the ferry to Isla Mujeres,
laughing and teasing, knocking off one another's hats.
Each lays his head on the shoulder of the next
and they sleep a while together, in a row.
Then they wake up and laugh and tease some more,
pour water on the one who turns his back.
At Chichén Itzá it's the cenote, the huge
natural well they must have built the city for.
Books tell us all we need about the buildings,
the almost fascist, inhuman Toltec grandeur
of the space there, but what can a book say
about the cenote which no one built?
I want to stay there.
On a clear night it would hold a lot of stars.
A lovely young girl is screaming mama! and papa!
on the ball court. Mama and papa are cultured and rich
and their daughter's lovely name is Le-ti-ci-a.
She'll grow up a beauty, but she's only eight
years old now and everyone still loves her.
She throws rocks at her pensive, well-behaved older brother.
Next year mama will make her keep her shirt on.
The book says that virgins were thrown into the cenote.
A bus in the ditch and a semi truck on its side
that blocks the whole road, burning.
I dream in our house on the prairie we're surrounded
by Indians. It's her fault they've crept up so close!
But when I dream a madman wants to kill me,
leaves weird notes and drives his bus
full of bizarre electronics across the lawn,
when he's got me on the bus and grabs a big axe
and we wrestle and I dig my fingers into his face,
it's the face of a neighbor at home I hardly know
who came to the door once with liquor on his breath to talk.
Eric Torgersen's Other Poems
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Comments about this poem (A Vacation by Eric Torgersen )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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