Songs of La Purísima

by Lorraine Caputo

Morning Song 
 
Before the morning light 
appears above the eastern mountains … 
 
A string of firecrackers 
split the night. 
Occasionally 
a rocket 
blasts the night. 
 
A chorus of high voices 
drifts down the streets 
from the hill. 
 
on the shore below, 
the boats’ motors hum. 
They toot their horns. 
Their red-green-yellow lights 
cannot penetrate 
the blackness of the lake, 
the sky. 
 
Above 
in faint points, 
Orion stands ready for battle. 
 
Another string of firecrackers ... 
more rockets … 
 
A lone man’s song 
comes from the hill. 
 
The church bells ring. 
 
A clock strikes five. 
 
A rooster crows. 
Another answers his song 
& another … 
& another … 
 
The wind blows 
heavy 
& strong 
through the trees. 
 
The village  
remains black … 
 
 
Evening Song 
 
The women 
of the village 
stand in the cobble street, 
before the church. 
 
Their heads 
are covered 
with colorful, heavy shawls 
edged with pm-poms. 
 
In front of the procession,  
two men of the cofradía, 
dressed in white embroidered pants, 
beat a double-headed drum. 
 
Around the large wooden platform, 
women hold the weight 
of the Virgin 
dressed in traditional village clothing. 
A halo of silver stars, 
long black hair 
frame her quiet, 
pallid face. 
 
Behind, 
beneath a pillar 
of electric light, 
a chorus of women sing. 
 
Beyond the gate 
of the churchyard,  
a fireworks display 
shoots first a star, 
then two wheels 
spinning fire 
into the night. 
 
Amid the 
rockets firing on either side, 
amid the 
clouds of rising gunpowder, 
the procession continues 
to the door of the church. 
The smell of copal wafts, 
envelops the women. 
 
Under white-yellow-purple lace 
draping the nave, 
the women sit silent, 
listening to the mass. 
Outside the rockets continue. 
 
The mass ends. 
The few men kiss 
the hands of the cofradía. 
The many women, 
pulling their shawls  
to their shoulders, 
flow into the night. 
 
The cobble streets are lined 
with still-open market stalls 
filled with people. 
On one corner, 
three men play a marimba. 
From the basketball court 
drifts the music 
of a dance band. 
 
And the rockets continue…

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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