Hotel Las Suites, Miraflores, Lima, Peru,
is where we wait. Same time zone, different
hemisphere. Days and weeks softly accumulate.
The window, with its view of Avenida
Elias Aguirre and the walled school across,
is our chief entertainment.
We watch crowds of children march
through the gates to class in the morning
and surge back onto the street in the afternoon.
Each glossy-haired lighter-than-air child
a phantom, a vision, an omen
of the one little girl we are trying to claim.
In the mid-morning quiet,
the minor-key calls of street vendors,
each one distinct—fruit, rags, fish—
so tightly woven into the tapestry
of city noise you can’t hear them
unless you know what time it is.
I hobble to bakery and Super Mercado
on my lame Spanish, and regret not knowing
the names of the dusty trees along Boulevard Jose Pardo.
What shall we name her, we ask aloud for the first time
and just then, a white dove flies at the window,
a semaphore suspended. Paloma.
Knowing it hasn’t rained here for centuries
we wake to wet streets one morning
and believe we are witnessing a meteorological miracle,
but it’s only the garúa, the mist that muffles the city
in gray from June to December—
no color, no crisp lines, no sharp sensations.
Every day, we carry our Paloma five blocks to the Pacific.
She sleeps peacefully on the green Malecon, waves booming
at the roots of the cliffs below, while we are pursued
by flocks of children clutching black plastic garbage bags,
whispering, por favor, señora, por favor, then veering away
like birds attuned to signals beyond our hearing.