Five Ways I Lack Courage

  1. There’s a stall in the Friday market in Llano Park where women get their eyebrows pruned, where some get a spare pair of eyelashes installed, or new fingernails, or a purple strand of hair adhered to her head. Though I do not deny needing an overhaul, this place makes me flinch.
  2. On the corner of Margarita Masa and Diaz Quintas, right off Jardin Conzatti, there’s a man in a gray cap vending beef: soup, tacos, you name it. When he has no customers, he rushes out from behind the stand to grab my arm. And kiss my hand. I go blocks out of my way to avoid his corner.
  3. In Teotitlan del Valle, a town where the first language is Zapotec and the majority of the residents are weavers working with wool and brilliant, natural dyes, I greet the locals in Spanish. And, while I have the words to wager over a carpet, I succumb at the first amount an artist utters though I know she expects a counter.
  4. I ask my Spanish teacher, after she confesses to meditating on death daily, whether she worries about being killed. She doesn’t.
  5. Some afternoons, Mexico is too much for me. Instead of facing what a foreigner I am here, I hunker in the posada.

I’m sure you will understand why I have selected the following small poem by Ryszard Krynicki.

I Can’t Help You

–Ryszard Krynicki

Poor moth, I can’t help you,
I can only turn out the light.

from Polish Poetry of the Last Two Decades of Communist Rule OSI: Spoiling Cannibals Fun, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh

http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2009/04/30/by-ryszard-krynicki/chronicles/poetry/

  • Craft additional metaphors that are akin to a moth and a flame. Use these to develop a character.

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