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By Sara Ries


Your feet swollen from cobblestones

in Villa de Leyva, heartthrob colonial town,

you sit at the foot of the plaza and begin to draw

the white-washed buildings, street dogs that follow you home,

cobblestones like little markers for those

who once fell in love at those spots


and clouds somersaulting across mountains

like children urging fathers to play.

You can almost lick the clouds,

sky having finally met the ground in the middle.

But you can’t get the colors right,

not with the sky darkening so fast

that shadows cast secrets onto the plaza.

Is this a day or night scene,

and why does it feel you are always begging time

to just once, be still?


An old, ponchoed woman, rooster under arm,

says buenas tardes as she passes,

and when you sketch her wrinkles

you recognize your own rivers of time.


It’s dark now, the bell towers are lit,

street lamps hold tiny suns, and low adobe buildings

are stringed with yellow windows.

The church door is open,

and people kneeling before the gold altar

are smaller than seeds in your picture.


You walk back to your hostel,

hoping the farmers who pass

are drawing you into their murals.


The brightest flowers adorn every balcony,

but you pay attention to every cobblestoned step

so that your foot doesn’t land slanted between two stones.

Every step is a pounding, a drum beat, a reminder


how close the body is to crumbling, the dead saying,

you touch the ground; now feel it.

Contributor’s Note: SARA RIES will join poet Celia White in a special revival of the Poetry and Dinner Night Series at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Woodlawn Diner, 3200 Lakeshore Road in Blasdell. A Buffalo-area native, she holds a master’s degree in fine arts from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, where she received the Best Thesis in Poetry Award. Her first book, “Come In, We’re Open,” won the Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition and was published in June 2010 by the NFSPS Press. She is currently an English teacher in South America at the public university of Colombia.