Organizing old files recently, I came across this fragment, written long ago in the form of a poem, with many cross outs and corrections.
EL VIEJO FROM GUANAJUATO FOLLOWS ME
Fifteen years ago I saw him
El Viejo, in a plaza in Guanajuato
bent like wheat broken by strong wind
glazed eyes to the ground
attending each dragging step forward
around the Jardin and around
again past my bench, left arm
clenching a large wooden box
pressing frail hips to the right.
I must go
but still I stay to watch
the parchment hands
the face like a dirt gully
after a hard rain
skin clinging to bone
ribs caved into organs.
Why is he shuffling still and
what does he carry and
what is he thinking and
what does he see?
If I were an artist I would paint him
If I were a photographer I would take a photo
But I have only words and I write him
in my notebook to carry home.
Long after the notebook is lost he stays.
I build him a cabin in green foothills
give him a lonely boy to befriend
who finds him dead one winter day and
learned from that a lesson
this selfish boy who played
with Christmas toys when he could
have visited El Viejo.
You only used me the old man nagged.
No wonder it didn’t sell.
You never knew me.
I didn’t care. I’d wasted
enough time on him.
I worked on commercial things but
he kept butting in until
I put him back in the cabin
and visited often
There it ends, as though there might be more pages. The truth is that El Viejo haunted me until years later, just recently, I published Amigos: A Novella on Amazon Kindle.