1. She, irritated.
2. First, the handle on the suitcase, broken.
3. Then, not finding the border on that crazy-exit highway, then
finding it, then losing it again, doubling back, losing it again,
4. Then, him. His first statement after immigration, “I hate towns like this,” which makes a pleasant companion.
5. And her, of course, accusing.
6. Then, at kilometer 21, the checkpoint, all the papers,
a. the photocopies,
b. the passport photos,
c. the visas,
d. insurance papers for one country,
e. insurance papers for another,
f. proof of residence from each of them,
g. some other mess, some other paper they needed and didn’t have, or had but couldn’t find, a copy of her birth certificate this time.
7. And the look that man gave her.
8. It was one thing after another.
9. The hotel that night looking like anything in the States,
10. the American TV shows droning on,
11. three local children outside the door, shouting. They would never wear themselves out.
12. He and she, a grumbling knot.
13. She had lost her sense of humor. He didn’t know how but it
was gone. She blamed him—he interrupts, doesn’t laugh at her
14. Morning, the gathered papers, a fistful of documents, damp
16. Drowned desert, puddled.
17. Still, a gob of spit visible on the rental-car window—certain
proof that they were unwanted.
18. Then the ugly first town,
19. the turning around and around in the second,
20. the fact of no restaurant in the third,
21. (the spit).
22. The road longer than any map would dare reveal, more
23. and mountainous,
24. so that it took hours longer,
25. took all day
26. to reach a modest destination,
27. barely an inch down the
28. wrong map.
29. Ahead, the jagged edge of sky. The sky looking as if it had
been torn off, leaving this shred of dark mountain.
30. The spit (that he) washed off but was still in their minds,
proof that someone disliked them, not them in particular, but
the idea of them, hated them without knowing them, held
them in disdain for reasons they couldn’t know—
31. the bewilderment (it wasn’t fair!),
32. the embarrassment,
33. and, it must be admitted, the understanding.
34. So she walked through the last town of the day, rocks in her shoes, him complaining he was hungry.
35. Sour shrimp cocktail amid boys playing videos,
36. three giant vultures sitting outside.
37. The boredom.
38. The bickering.
39. The inferiority of their love,
40. the obviousness of the inferiority of it, the inferiority of him,
41. and her noticing of it often. That too.
42. Finally, sleep, please. Impossible.
43. Midnight, her tearful, him repentant.
45. over the spit
46. (again? he said)
47. (over their inferior love)
48. over the map
49. over no place to go
50. everywhere colder than seasonally expected,
53. They had hoped for much, planned badly—not just about this
trip, but others, not just about their love, but others.
54. Early gray, not blue.
55. Fake colonial,
56. palm strangled in pot.