Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

From the eastern rim Jorgé throws a rock
into the deep and we hear nothing in return.
An American lady says as she walks away
that it’s a nice place to visit and her voice
trails off. And “breathtaking” says
someone else we’ll never get to know.

The Japanese teenagers stare solemnly
down while the people from France
speak in interested tones as they point
toward the west then north, south. Our
leaders are not here. We are ungoverned,
listening, needlessly, for the lost rock.

And I think of the old woman who told me
she could never see the joy in staring into
this large hole in the earth. “Give me a casino,”
she affirmed that day, “where losses and wins
are strictly defined, where my feet are secure
and chance answers back as clear as a bell.”

Jorgé puts a quarter into the viewer, moves it
every which way. The old woman is dead and
he is fourteen, seeing a country that’s not
quite his, living as if the world were all
Guadalajara, where he was born, trusting,
like home, this lovely and foreign edge.

Barbara Wuest

Photo by Gert Boers on Unsplash. Image cropped.