Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Year of Living Dangerously

Contact from two old friends dropped me right back into the Medellin of decades ago, the Medellin of drug lords, of violence, and the great passion of life lived in the shadows of all that intensity. Thanks to Patricia and Harold for reminding me that it was real. I was there in all of my naiveté.

Years later, it’s still almost too delicate to touch. I have rarely written about it save for a few poems. And I’m reminded of Alexandra Fuller (wonderful writer and speaker) who said you have to write with honesty. I’m not quite ready for all the stories.

How did I not know? I’d done research and read all that I could yet I arrived to teach in a binational center and was picked up in a bulletproof station wagon. Many incidents- I’ll save them for later but what remains is innocence, with the world surrounding gone mad.

And connectedness with friends. There were poetry readings, long lunches with my girlfriends, and trips to the country- returning to the city with its sparkling lights on the mountains. Love and language, beauty surrounding, and enough passion to last a lifetime. That was Medellin.

A poem from then…

Santa Fe de Antioquia

The smell of decaying fruit hangs

in the hot sun,

A green as strong

I´d never seen

in years of temperate moderation.

Ceilings beyond reach

in a room very old,

matching the inhabitants

busily fashioning

caskets out of wood,

the family trade.

Neatly stacking them

just beyond the bedroom

where I sleep in coolness,

for babies, tiny and white,

for adults several wait.

This night double church bells

announce another loss.

Bats flutter, then

rest flat

blotting out

paradise in palm trees.

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