For Two Weeks, Farming in Peru
What the pictures of mountains don’t
show you about the Peru I know:
in the rainy season, you will hardly ever see
the sun before noon. When it rains,
the metal of the roof will pop and you’ll think
of popcorn, microwaves, electricity
you can’t find in the nighttime stars
that still look far away. You thought
you’d be nearer to the heavens, nearer
to God, but although you live in mountains,
you are not above the laws of the state.
Déjame, men say for everything, but cooking.
You explain that you can’t cook, but they
say, practicas. You can’t argue, because
you don’t know Spanish. You do understand
Cuántos bebés? And you shake your head,
try to explain that you don’t need to cook,
you can carry your own guano bag to the field
without help, but they’ve opened their home
for you: the home with palm-long grasshoppers,
rat-infested paths, rice-and-lentil meals,
guano-polished wooden floors—and your face,
after a week of being just jungle-clean, is so
brown you almost look like you fit in. Without child.
Without husband. Without the ability to cook.
Grasshopper-Dying in Peru
On a farm between the rainforest
and the highlands, a grasshopper is dying.
It is night and he is surrounded by gringos.
We think it’s a good idea to set him free,
drop him from the second floor of our home.
He jumps as we try to hold him, flash
lights from cameras in his flickering eyes.
We’ve learned the sunlight in the rainy season
is finicky, too—it is cloud-gripped and squashed.
Rain washes coffee plants unstable. We think
we’re drowning, too, in the colored landscape
of our new home—we, the young gringos
in rubber-slick waders, fertilizing plants
hanging on the mountain’s slippery edge.