Sunday, April 11, 2010


It is the week of Semana Santa in Taxco. I did not come to Mexico for this.
Walking back to my hotel through the crowds I'm exhausted. I've never been so thin in my life and I'm sure I have a parasite though the doctor assures me I do not. I push past a woman in black with a veil over her face. Her hands are the only part of her body I see--reaching out to two children whose hands she clutches. Her gnarled fingers are like bird claws. She won't let go of either of them and I circle around all three and continue up Alarcon.

I decide to turn up a side street. I've never been up this street but I can't fathom going back through the Zocalo where it seems the entire city has gathered to await the procession. The side street is narrow and damp and so steep I have to bend forward like the penitentes to keep my balance. After just a few yards I have to stop to catch my breath.

I hear a panting sound. At first I think it is my own heavy chest. But I can hear myself and the panting also--not quite in sync.

I look over my right shoulder and there is a dog. Under the incomplete first floor of a condo and behind a pile of broken concrete the dog lay against a foundation wall with its legs sprawled out. It was half in shadow and I could just make out its honey brown body in the dirt.

Most of the wild dogs that normally roam the city ran off when the crowds came for Good Friday. What was this one doing here? And why didn't it get up and growl or run?

I stepped closer and saw the blood smeared between the dog's back legs. Was it hurt? I looked at its eyes--unconcerned but alert. I turned to see two stragglers pass by without so much as a glance. Did no one see the dog but me? I looked back at the dog, its blood dripping into the dust. It lowered its head, still panting. I squatted down for a moment and our eyes met.

She pulled her jaw shut then and I held my breath too. I could smell Copal burning in the distance, streaming from great silver troughs the virgins carried through the procession. She flicked one ear forward and stretched her nose toward me, then bent to lick the blood from her thigh. I realized she was menstruating.

I stood up slowly then and moved away. I looked back once but she had been eclipsed by the cliff of construction.

If you are up for the challenge: Write a scene where your protagonist has a magical, spiritual or sacred experience with an animal. In the scene include a cave, catacomb or dungeon. (Bonus points if you can work in a Ukelele or a Glockenspiel).

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