"Selva" means forest or jungle.
Watching the Mayan Women
I hang the window inside out
like a shirt
drying in a breeze
and the arms that are missing come to me
a song, one I don't quite comprehend
although I do understand the laundry.
and rain water, a method
my aunt taught me, but I'll never know
how she learned
it in Brooklyn. Her mind
has gone to seed, blown by a stroke,
and that dandelion
puff called memory
has flown far from her eyes. Some things remain.
Methods. If you burn
a fire all day, feeding it snapped
the faces pressed against the print
flames-you end up
with a barrel of white ash. If
you take that
same barrel and fill it
with rain, let it sit for a day,
you will have
that can bring brightness to anything.
If you take
and in it soak your husband's shirts,
at dawn when he puts one on,
its softness like a haunting afterthought.
And if he
works all day in the selva,
he'll divine his way home
aglow with torchlight.
from Hayden's Ferry Review, Issue 26, Spring
/ Summer 2000
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Copyright 2000 by Luisa Villani.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).