For weeks, I have been asking myself how to write about my book tour. Or, more specifically, the first stop on my book tour: Costa Rica.
It has been two months since watching the mountains fade from my tiny-plane-window-view and, still, I am questioning. How can I articulate the magic that happened there? How can I dig out what it meant to me? How can I thank those who, even before meeting me, extended an open-armed generosity I never could have imagined?
Now I sense the fear every writer holds deep in the pit of their stomach or on the thin edges of the fingertips is coming true for me: I have no words. Or rather, words cannot reach deeply enough.
Costa Rica was the first stop but there were three readings, dozens of people, the opening up and beginning of me and my journey as … *gulp* … a published poet. I have been suspended, for these two months, by the warm feelings, images, sounds and memories I carried back from that heart-beating place.
And, since these things are all I have, this is what I will give, for now: a shaky poem collecting the safe-held memories from the first stop on my book tour—coupled, of course, with photos and a gratitude which reaches far across the ocean. The next two posts on Costa Rica are coming, stay tuned:
University for Peace, May 12th
Charlie, our taxi driver, tells us stories
of coffee plantations and bullet rain. Shows us photos
at red lights of his girlfriend, and shares
a personal history of his father: a taxi driver
laughing Papa, who taught him to negotiate,
treat tourists well,
because driving, he says,
takes you to the places where snakes live,
teaches you about Iraq, what volcanoes are made of.
The University reveals itself through fat trees
and Charlie parks the car, wants to stay.
We are early so are taken to the edge
of a forest where I stride ahead: avoiding
unknown insects, counting exotic blooms.
We make a circle of chairs
and sit quiet as grief comes quick
at our backs. I read until
everyone holds their breath,
until we all go still with poetry.
Later, a photo is taken of me
and a Filipino student who smiles wide
enough to stop everything. Suddenly, I am
right there: a visitor in that moment, reminded
that we are full of blood, alive
like the wasps outside, buzzing and ripe