Early Morning

Lorraine Caputo

Latin America

EARLY MORNING
27 January 1997 / Mexico City (Buenavista Train Station)

Down the still-black streets,
bowed under the weight of my pack.
Half-empty city buses pass by.

At one stop a block from the station,
a group gets off and hurries across
to this side,
women shifting their babies
in shawls on their backs,
men hoisting large bundles
onto shoulders.

                *****

Down in the second-class
section of the station …

Security clanging railings with batons,
yelling for people to get up.

Still a few sleepy-eyed bodies,
pained and cramped from the cold floor,
are rolling up cardboard and blankets.
They join the lines snaking
to the ticket windows.

An indigenous couple sits
surrounded by their children.
Mother combs the coarse,
shiny hair of one daughter.
She parts it, and
with quick wrists, braids.

                *****

After I get my ticket for the 9 a.m.
to Nuevo Laredo,
I walk back into the morning.

The eastern sky begins to color.
The mountains around this valley
silhouette and clear.
Mist drifts up from the streets.

I sit on the steps,
eat a chicken mole tamale
and chocolate atole,
wanting to watch this sunrise.

But soon all is lost to the rise
of smog, to the faster traffic.

I stoop to put on my backpack
and when I straighten,
I see the due east sky rosen.
The statue of Jesús García,
oilcan in hand,
glimmers in the strengthening light.

Lorraine Caputo is a Guest Contributor for Panorama.