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.