Witness (Alajuela, 1954)
Nobody starves in Costa Rica.
In the park you can hear the mangos fall, banana trees festoon the avenues, guavas are in season among the poor.
It’s always been that way.
But my Aunt Aida is never happy. Red nails digging into my wrist, every two minutes she stops
to complain to strangers who grin and trot by chased by her last thoughts on the government she hates like a husband.
The bastards, the bastards,even the sidewalks are falling apart, she hisses to the passing cars,
to the stray dogs sniffing at her skirts, and, as a last resort, to me, her portable audience of one,
witness to how careless people are, how insensitive, how very blind— adangle from her skinny brown arm,
just another of her hundred bracelets.
Mark Smith-Soto, who is of Costa Rican descent, is a professor of Spanish at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where he edits the International Poetry Review. He is author of Jose Asuncion Silva and El arte de Alfonsina Storni. He has published poetry in such journals as Quarterly West, Poetry East, and Carolina Quarterly.