Every wall is topped with broken glass from bottles that once held Cerveza Panama
or Atlas, such thin bitter brews with the tinge of formaldehyde, an echo of odor
The jagged shards cemented there to keep the walls unscaled, cheaper than barbed
wire or paying those corrupt thugs, the off-duty Guardia, to patrol the grounds
The bricks are crumbling, a bad mix of concrete, someone skimped on the clay
or maybe too much sand was used, but paint cannot hold it together for much longer
What choice but to just go on living around what collapses, ignoring the dust, while
your home caves in on you, stepping over rubble to fetch water, to boil corn meal?
Thieves will take anything, your grandmother's meat grinder, dull and made of base
metal, clamped to the unfinished board next to the stained steel sink for forty years
They will steal for scrap metal the copper spigot out back that the whole family uses
to shower under, a live wire wrapped around the pipe to heat the water
In the Interior, at least there are horses, swayback though they might be, no need for
the exhaust fumes of painted buses, on which drivers list the names of girls in scroll
There is always an old aunt at the little finca, her hands perpetually working, even
when she is too frail to stand, even when she has faded like print on worn cotton
Where a cloud as long as the horizon folds the sun like an eggyolk into gray batter
and a thousand birds circle and whisk the storm full of air with beating wingtips
Lightning may strike the corrugated tin roof, or the tree you have sheltered under, it
may find you in the river, so why run if you are home, if there is nowhere to run?
Teresa Tulipano was born in San Francisco, CA, grew up in England and the Republic of Panama, and she now lives with her dear husband in Brooklyn, NY. She used to cover the San Francisco Bay AreaŐs night beat for the Contra Costa Times and wrote the nightlife section of Time OutŐs guidebook to San Francisco. She published a chapbook, The Whetting Stone, and her poems have recently appeared in Lines+Stars, Poetry Super Highway, and Marco Polo Arts Mag.