By Joseph Stroud
Three days into the journey
I lost the Inca Trail
and scrambled around the Andes
in a growing panic
when on a hillside below snowline
I met a farmer who pointed the way—
Machu Picchu allá, he said.
He knew where I wanted to go.
From my pack I pulled out an orange.
It seemed to catch fire
in that high blue Andean sky.
I gave it to him.
He had been digging in a garden,
turning up clumps of earth,
some odd, misshapen nuggets,
He handed me one,
a potato the size of the orange
looking as if it had been in the ground
a hundred years,
a potato I carried with me
until at last I stood gazing down
on the Urubamba valley,
peaks rising out of the jungle into clouds,
and there among the mists
was the Temple of the Sun
and the Lost City of the Incas.
Looking back now, all these years later,
what I remember most,
what matters to me most,
was that farmer, alone on his hillside,
who gave me a potato,
a potato with its peasant face,
its lumps and lunar craters,
a potato that fit perfectly in my hand,
a potato that consoled me as I walked,
told me not to fear,
held me close to the earth,
the potato I put in a pot that night,
the potato I boiled above Machu Picchu,
the patient, gnarled potato
Just a quickie as I've been working on my Peter Pan article all evening (which required back-to-back viewings of Finding Neverland and An Awfully Big Adventure -- hardly a sacrifice and this is the way to watch the latter, after Neverland and Hogan's Peter Pan, as a great many symbolic things suddenly become very clear). It was a heavily movie day, as earlier we took the kids to The Producers. I know it got mediocre reviews particularly among fans of the Broadway production, but I never saw Lane and Broderick do it live, and we all found the film completely hysterical and wonderfully done -- we are raving Mel Brooks fans and also know enough Yiddish that She Schtupps To Conquer strikes us as completely hysterical so we were predisposed to enjoy it, but I really can't see how anyone who likes musicals even a little bit could not enjoy this film. ETA: Make sure you stay all the way through the closing credits, not just to where the dancing girls disappear! Wait for Mel Brooks!
I know, I still need to see Rent and King Kong but I wasn't in the mood for either one, I was in the mood for laughing and fluff and song-and-dance and the gayest ending ever -- not to mention the gayest song ever -- and anyway it went great with both Finding Neverland and An Awfully Big Adventure which are after all about producing plays. Tomorrow the kids go back to school and things attempt to return to normal, meaning we ought to be caught up by spring break!
And this is the first sunset of 2006, taken down the street from where I live.