The Bath; Sacrifice At The Dump

The Bath

Small brown bodies are lathering up.
Four o'clock, shower-time, at the Orphanage of Glory,
Tijuana. I'm here with green bananas.
A truck hit a stone on the way to market,

but there is no market for dumped bananas.
Now small brown bodies gobble them up
and play ball in the concrete courtyard,
spindly roses drying to the walls.

Pop-ups fall in a lone orange tree.
It is hot. We are tired. We've been playing
all day. "Acapuche! Acapuche!" and they grab you
for the piggyback ride you've been coached to give.

We are here with green bananas. Loretta
is sick and sleeps on one of our laps.
Perhaps she has parents who will come for her.
"Pronto! Pronto!" Oscar shouts in my ear.

We are lathering up. Small brown bodies,
one skinny white. Where arms can't reach,
we scrub each other. We are slippery with laughter.
The smallest need toweling. Someone, bring us clothes.

Sacrifice At The Dump

Stink. A corner of the dump is burning.
Smoke from old tires smothers the air
for days, rubber dying hard and slow.
The Tijuana Fire Department, some battered
trucks, a few hundred gallons, doesn't come,
doesn't know, couldn't help if it did. Isn't wanted.
This fire, like others, was set with a purpose,
but not vengeance, not insurance, not even for fun.
People are burning to feed their kids.

It's the steel they're after in the belted radials,
set free from the burden of balding, lopsided
or punctured flesh, and valuable now
the fire's cold, the wire coiled,
at the scrap-metal salvage halfway to town.

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