Always Lost
by Ken Wheatcroft-Pardue

In that first full moon,
I noted how their labyrinthine tattoos
snaked across their nude bodies.

And next, I could not help but notice
their foul smell – a mixture
of alligator fat and dirt
slathered across their towering bodies
to keep at bay
the hovering clouds of mosquitoes
that haunt these beaches.

But now hunched with them
on this leeward slope of dune,
I, Nez Cabeza de Vaca,
also wear nothing.
When in Rome . . .

But now los indios, the Capoques
are dying of a sickness
that infects the stomach.

Nothing stays down.
One orifice or another
works overtime till death,
like sweet mercy, comes.

Ridiculously, I am their curandero.
Endlessly I mix herbs I do not know,
try my best to comfort the lucky dying.

Bow my head,
recite a Pater Noster,
and for good measure
throw in an Ave Maria.

But did any milagros follow me
on the green waves
I rolled in on?

Every day I pray to God
I'm not murdered in my sleep,
a jagged knife across my gullet
in this strange land where I am always lost.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

Copyright by Dallas Poets Community. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.