Mata de Plátanos

The bats waft up
From the musty darkness like wafers
Of cardboard ash rising
From a bonfire.
The sun sinks behind us
In a steep arc. The dusk
Peters out in tropical
Double-time
As fireflies float between trees
Blinking their inscrutable
Rubato.

More bats stream out
Riding the warm halitosis of
The cave. Their batting wings
Shake down water
And stir the air. We are
Baptized; our hands flutter up
To wipe our dampened brows.
Somewhere a coquí
Coquís its minor 7th
Amidst the encircling
Chorale of crickets.

The unexpected daylight
Of our flashlights clears the air.
Our eyes turn like glass beads
In their sockets
Scanning the branches and
Hanging roots for the telltale
Slither.
But only the shadows move
With the shifting light.

Betrayed, we
Squat together in darkness
Sharing the meat of a grapefruit
I had picked from a tree.
Mouths full of juicy sacs we
Begin to tell stories to each others'
Silhouettes.
Our words slip through the
Forest canopy
Pushing their way up
Through the clinging atmosphere.
Overhead
A satellite threads its way
Through the stars.

Somewhere
Inside the cave
The boas are sleeping.
Stalactites are growing drip
By drip by
Drip
As whipless scorpions scuttle
Past the heat of
Decaying guano.
The rhythm insinuates itself
Through their coiled
Sheaths.
The night is endless.
But some day they will awake
And their hunger
Will draw them out
Toward the irresistibly flickering edge
Of twilight.

*END*

April 24, 1996


Return to travel story list.
Copyright 1996, John Nagamichi Cho