Under The Portal Of The Four Evangelists
under the arches of the western colonnade
of the Plaza Santo Domingo,
print shops trade in all things paper
and people come to have their letters read
and written by those who have their abc's.
Beside the table they stand and listen
and then compose a response, pausing
in mid-sentence while the scribe waits
or suggests a possible word,
a better turn of phrase, and they smile
and nod and sound the words out
to see if they feel like what they want to say
or they frown and ask the meaning
of a word suggested by another person
with another pen from another town, who sits
at another rough-hewn table worn down
by hands holding paper in its place
and pens scrawling, condensing
a week's worth of domestic news
into a hundred words for three pesos
plus paper, envelope and stamp:
I have no words to thank you, only God
can pay such kindness. Tomorrow I interview,
God willing they will want me as maid.
Don't worry about the cough from Christmas.
I'm taking syrup and the rains haven't
made it worse. Tell María she needs to help
with making breakfast. Did she like the sweater?
I ran out of green and had spent all my money
on syrup. Did the dulce de coco leak?
I wrapped it twice with newspaper.
Tell her I'll be home for her birthday.
If I don't write, I didn´t get the job.
Besos y abrazos.