Proud in the streets of rural Peru,
a white bus with a name like a warning:
El Hijo de Nadie. Nobody's Child.
But it is a bus in name only. Below,
the placard lies empty: no schedule,
no clear destination.
Don't coddle me. Don't follow me.
But just try to forget
that I exist.
I won't, of course. That mark, curiousity,
etched in my memory of a place
I want to remember. Being a tourist.
Being here with camera
for the sake of reliving things later.
At home, Kay explains the trouble
with our nation: We don't tell each other
enough important stories. Story being,
after all, the only real synthesis
between persons and their lives.
So I offer the story of the bus.
How startingly American a sentiment:
tough, indpendent. What is this significance--
nobody's daughter, nobody's son--
in a culture that lends children
the names of both parents?
It's a riddle that lingers,
a pulse in the road:
How much of me is inherent,
like the status of an orphan--no one's child.
How much is incidental,
learned or cultural?
We are so chemical, Kay says,
the day I decide to take drugs
for this depression. The day I relent
will power to solve things on my own.
Don't shelter me. Don't cry for me.
You should know that you are loved, she says. Yes, I think,
That you are not alone.
Yes, yes, that too. Of course!
But El Hijo de Nadie does not need love. Or has it already.
Chases it daily through the back streets of a nation,
advertising itself like an absence that cannot be ignored.
Don't pity me. Don't rescue me.
Some nights I still dream in Spanish,
months after returning home.
People asking me for translations:
How to order tacos in a resturaunt.
How to explain things that are hoped for.
A Seattle native, Susan Meyers has lived and taught in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. She earned an MFA from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of Arizona, and she currently teaches at Oregon State University. Her work has appeared in CALYX, Dogwood, Terra Incognita, and The Minnesota Review, and it has been the recipient of several awards, most recently a Fulbright Fellowship.