Travelogue in rarefied air

Ioana Petrescu
Ioana Petrescu

Incas drive the Uros away from their farmlands,
build stone residences for their rich,
the poor build in adobe,
the poorer in reeds,
churches are heavy with stone

The present is an artefact of the past
tourists leave here the almighty dollar,
llamas and alpacas lose their fleece

I like the heavy timber gates
the beautifully carved tables and chairs
the brown warmth of wood.
Delicate contours
speak of the rainforest past
adorn the shabby-chic present.

I know the wood from the Amazon,
this table was a tree, this chair was a tree
and I am torn:

Do I still love what is perfectly shaped
tables and gates, stairs and chairs,
do I admire the carved balconies,
their proper height, their stylish presence,
the notch of distinction,
the place from where
lovely senoritas imparted flowers
to bloodied corrida winners?

Amazon birds are fluttering, chirping,
looking for their tree, the one with huge branches,
the one they could swear was there in the morning.

And here it is:
Machu Picchu,
on top of the world,
a dream, a reality,
the image from my childhood picture-book come true
the colours, the stones, the llamas,
they are all here!
Reality can’t trump a young mind’s dream
but somehow still manages to match it closely.

Mind appeased,
the thoughts continue to fly with the condors.

Farewell Cuzco, I do wish you well,
you and your Quechua people
called Incas by tourists,
you and your llamas
called alpacas by tourists,
you and your idols
sold in shops in the Plaza.

It was nice to see you, take care!
I came for your five hundred year old dust and I found it!
See, it’s right here under a promo leaflet,
in the shiny lobby of a stylish hotel.

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