Juan has introduced me to the captain of the waiters as his friend for a long time. The captain makes small talk, about basketball. I can hardly keep up. After my meal, Juan offers me a plate of pickled potatoes, carrots, and onions because he remembers I like foods enlivened by vinegar. He says the kitchen staff make them to accompany their own means and is pleased when I compliment their flavor.
As I’ve been dining, he has hustled to serve more than fifty federal police officers, and, though he is nearly breathless, he asks me what more he can offer me. It is late, and I am quite full and tired, so I respond politely with, “The bill.”
He returns with what I think is a flower-tipped pen. (You know the kind of pen that’s adorned when writing instruments are scarce?) I’m paying in cash is all I can think. I don’t need a pen.
It’s a red carnation for me.
I think of The Language of Flowers.
Where did the flower come from?
What does it mean here in Mexico?
I figure this is just another Oaxacan mystery I’ll never unravel.
I don’t know what this red carnation means, but I do know the meaning of “The Red Wheelbarrow:” ordinary/small things are of great importance.
The Red Wheelbarrow
–William Carlos Williams
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
- Make the extraordinary as ordinary as a wheelbarrow or a pen.