“Cuscatlán” by Zoë Anglesey

Zoë Anglesey

CUSCATLÁN

In this smallfry country
pollo does not mean deep-
fried but unplucked and alive
on the back of a boy’s weaving bike
or on the head of a señora.

Crated, flush to a pickup’s gate,
eggs arrive fresh at market
chauffeured by drivers known for
skimming drop-offs, who swerve
potholes in mud-washed streets.

Sometimes eggs are thrown,
give body to a painter’s tempera
or as snacks anchor purses
of women stitching demi bras
near the dormant Izalco.

Up to them, grandmothers stew
chicken, drain-flavored broth—
the secret for silken masa—
fill tamales with tasty odd bits
and swaddle each in banana leaves.

A stooped woman wears them
over shoulders and head, rain or not.
Ten years at crater’s edge, she
points skyward, blurts out a truck
flying spilled a crate of bombs.

from Rattle #13, Summer 2000