Nit de Saint Joan

when I stand outside in the darkness and hear the rupturing booms and crackles, see the flashing lights and smell the phosphor, it’s hard to tell the difference between celebration and danger. we watched small boys light firecrackers a week earlier in the plaza. with each ignition, my eyes fluttered and twitched until they exploded in white light, causing me to shutter and squirm upon explosion. we watched, slightly amused as grandmas slumbered without a care, blissful and calm while I jumped and worried. and then a scream let out as a boy ran from the crowd holding his eye. danger seems to have no hold on this land - scooters dart in and out of traffic, manholes covered in plastic sheets, five year olds with firecrackers. tonight it culminates in a rupture of explosives, wild and free, zooming and whizzing, intention without caution. like a motherless revolution it sparks and booms and dies without reason.


We had taken the wrong exit. Or rather, not taken any exit and traveled the road too far into a small town.  The highway had seemed to go on forever, stretching through farmland and factories and now the road narrowed into two lanes, over a small river and into a town.  The houses approached the road so closely it seemed as though the whole town was a tunnel. Out your front door and into traffic - right into our speeding white van.

It was the middle of the night. The headlights cut out the path ahead of us as we drove swiftly through the sleeping town. We didn’t bother to stop at the red lights. Just cruised on, 3 foreigners in a rental van.

The town pittered out as the road began to follow a river. I had just finished my second Dekivita K. I didn’t want to miss a thing. Moments and things seem more precious when you know you will never see them again. Also, I was on the lookout for a dekotora truck.  But none would eliminate the road, glistening in custom chrome and lights, none would shine near us.  We had left the highway long ago.

We had been talking for a long time as he stared at the road ahead, hands on the wheel, guiding us along the winding road.

“There’s not a day that I don’t think about it,” I said. 

It had become a mantra for me. Every morning when I woke up I told myself that she was no longer here. I told myself that it was not a possibility. She is not here. It was a crushing blow each and every time.  But at least it was a private moment. It was far better to be reminded still in bed, cushioned by the daze of dreams. And in the darkness my face, twisted in pain, couldn’t be seen. Far better at least than being asked by a stranger at the grocery store, “how’s your Mom” and to feel as if your being is a sheet of paper being crumpled up into a ball within you. Mind racing to conceal the fact that their pleasantry has just brought forth a crippling blow you say, “I’m so sorry to tell you… she’s passed on.” Fuck that euphemism.  Fuck that gentle rolling hill.

I no longer have to tell myself anymore. Like a true mantra it’s now ingrained in me, as steady and constant as the road we were traveling that night. He seemed surprised at what I said.  His face smudged in thought, eyes keen on the road. We drove on while he slowly began to nod.  He nodded as if in his own realization, as if the paper were folding inside him. “So do I,” he said.