Heading out for a visit to San Marcos, Guatemala, to meet our first grandson.

Here’s a poem I wrote about the place during last year’s trip.


Someone practices trumpet in barrio one
afternoons when whitecaps race like leaping fish
across Lake Atitlan. It seems an unlikely time
for a wind instrument, when most people gather
twigs and branches for cooking their evening meal.

As smoke settles over the village, the trumpeter
blows air through closed lips until a wave
vibration begins. All I know of the trumpet is jazz
which is not hot in San Marcos. Hot here is direct
sun from morning till dusk unless you find shade

or a breeze. Hot here are windchimes played
by gusts. Hot is coffee, chocolate, homemade sauce.
Early evening a guitarist strums simple chords
for his neighbors, maybe a church thing,
and they sing, often off key, and clap hands.

Later yet, after sundown, mangy travelers gather
at a hostel on the lake and drum their bongos
and imagine they make good music that stirs souls.
But it sounds, to this North American ear, like the natives
are restless. Except they don’t appear that way,

the locals. Not the kind of people to challenge,
and everyone you meet looks you directly
in the eye, and even when carrying fruit
in heavy baskets on their heads or bags
of rocks uphill, stops to say “Buenos Dias.”