Sketches of La Purísima

by Lorraine Caputo

Day 2 – San Juan del Sur  
  
In the street  
        Near the beach  
We play a pick-up game of baseball  
        A few neighborhood kids and I.  
We stop playing  
        At the sound of a marching band,  
Stand aside the street,  
Watching the musicians  
        then the Virgin in her splendor  
                resting atop four pairs of shoulders  
        then the faithful  
        Slowly coming towards the bay.  
A Norwegian stands in their midst  
        Taking photographs  
        The parade surrounds him  
                engulfs him  
I watch the procession turn the corner  
And disappear in the distance  
  
I walk up the street  
        Away from the virginal parade  
        Through the town  
And see it once more  
        Several blocks away  
        Wending towards the church.  
          
  
Later, I sit on the beach  
        Looking at the verdant hills  
                To the south of the bay,  
        Watching the sun set  
        A brilliant yellow ball  
                before dropping into the ocean,  
        The clouds touched with peach and yellow-orange,  
                Their undersides rose.  
Three oxen wander down the stretch of sand  
        Grazing on the scrub.  
Three small children light firecrackers  
        With an ember-tipped stick.  
  
To the southeast, clouds weigh low  
        Stronger becomes the wind  
                and the sound of the waves.  
Rain begins to fall.  
  
  
Day 5 – Granada   
  
At four o’clock in the morning  
        I am awakened from my dreams  
By the sound of a band  
        Marching down the street.  
  
In the morning  
        I ask my roommates  
        If they, too, heard the pre-dawn music.  
You must have been dreaming,  
        They tell me.  
  
That evening  
        We walk through the central park.  
The air is full with the smell  
        of roasting meats  
                cooking maduros  
                exploding fireworks.  
People throng from the park  
        Onto the street  
Engulfed by clouds of gunpowder  
        Enchanted by the procession passing by the cathedral  
                Enshowered by the fountain float.  
  
The whole scene passes around me  
        And descends down the street  
        Towards the lake.  
  
  
Day 6 – Granada   
  
Once more  
        I am awakened by the band  
        Marching past my room  
        At four o’clock in the night.  
Once more  
        I ask my roommates in the morning  
        If they, too, had heard it.  
        You must have been dreaming, they say.  
  
But others sitting around with us  
        Also had heard it.  
  
I was not dreaming ….  
  
  
Day 7 – León   
  
It is seven in the morning  
        And the temperature is already 76 degrees  
I am sitting in a small courtyard  
        surrounded by plants  
                — Strange to see what we consider houseplants  
                        Growing outside as regular plants —  
I watch little lizards running / climbing  
        Among the adventitious roots of palms.  
  
Outside  
The crack of fireworks  
        Fills the streets already.  
It is nearing the end of La Purísima.  
  
  
Day 9 – Estelí   
  
This is the last day  
        of the Purísima  
This is the eve  
        of the Virgin’s conception.  
  
The sun has set  
        And I stand in a darkened bus  
Traveling to Estelí  
        with many others.  
  
The Purísima procession  
        Wends slowly down the highway.  
Traffic is tied up for miles behind.  
Drivers in their buses / trucks  
        Watch the celebrants  
        Watch us  
As we leave the road  
        to pass this holy knot.  
  
In Estelí  
Groups of gaily dressed people  
        Walk from gaily decorated house  
                to gaily decorated house  
        Sing to one gaily adorned altar to Mary  
                and then to another.  
  
Other Estelians relax in their homes  
        drinking beer.  
  
There may be buses tomorrow,  
        I am told.  
There may not be.  
Who knows when, a woman tells me,  
        After all, it is a holiday….   

Lorraine Caputo is a documentary poet, translator, and travel writer. Her works appear in over 300 journals on six continents; and 20 collections of poetry — including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Caribbean Interludes (Origami Poems Project, 2022). She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth. Follow her travels at: www.facebook.com/lorrainecaputo.wanderer or https://latinamericawanderer.wordpress.com

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