Poem: Turismo


With my back turned to the meat
counter, you asked me how I felt
and the word tourist came to mind.
One time when I was in high school
I mixed up the words in Spanish
for “one more trip” and mistakenly
said “one more old lady,” which led
to a series of jokes all summer
from the packinghouse workers
that still replay in my memory.
Viaje and vieja, two nouns
that do look similar to a pocho
but hold entirely different meanings.
So it seemed fitting that 25 years
later, walking through the gigantic
Vallarta Supermarket with you,
fighting sensory overload and over-full
from an over-sized $5 chicken torta,
I would raise my cellphone to make
a portrait of you, standing in front
of a bin of grapes for $1.99 a pound
and with piñatas suspended above.
I imagined myself as a fresh batch
of papier-mâché, feeling malleable
and colorful, preparing for celebration,
hardening for the breaking apart.

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