After the Feast – by Lorraine Caputo

The mass is long over, with the celebration of the Holy Cross,
a fiftieth wedding anniversary & several baptisms.
The songs have been sung, the dances danced.
The skits about the environment & social problems have been acted.
Women served the rice       tamales       salad       fresco
All that remain of the mangos are the long seeds, the golden-red peels.
At their pools of sweet juice ants gather.

People climb down the hill to board the waiting launches.
They return to their repoblaciones on the other side of Lake Suchitlán –
San Francisco Hecheverría & Copapayo.
The older students in another go to Suchitoto.
There they will take a bus to the capital
for the coming week’s classes.
Soon those crowded boats cut a deep line
across the water glittering in the mid-afternoon sun.

Into trucks others load to Azacualpa & Los Naranjos
to Cinquera & Los Menjivas, to El Pital & San Luís.
The Los Rancheros await theirs to arrive.

Men hoist the seats back to the school, two atop a shoulder.
The women carry the benches to the chapel.
The sound system is packed into its boxes,
the sheet & lace backdrop unpinned,
banners untied from trees.

The last truck arrives – to Los Rancheros the people go.
& the last pick-up leaves for San Francisco Lempa.

The villagers of Santa Cruz tote
those remaining chairs & tables
up the cobblestone road
to the school,

Leaving behind the plastic plates & bags
scattering the ground,
the flowers decorating green-wood crosses
wilting in the humid heat.

L_CaputoPoet-translator Lorraine Caputo’s works appear in over 400 journals on six continents and in 23 collections of poetry – including On Galápagos Shores (dancing girl press, 2019) and Patagonian Sketches (Origami Poems Project, 2023). Her writing has been nominated for the Best of the Net. She journeys through Latin America, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.