Monday, 16 March 2009

16 March 2009

a wristwatch. He showed it to the child. She whimpered with glee. The others crowded around with amazement. Then Neal poked in the little girl’s hand for “the sweetest and purest crystal she had personally picked from the mountain for us.” He found one no bigger than a berry. And he handed her the wristwatch dangling. Their mouths rounded like the mouths of chorister children. The lucky little girl squeezed it to her ragged breastrobes. They stroked Neal and thanked him. He stood among them with his ragged face to the sky looking for the next and highest and final pass and seemed like the Prophet that had come to them. He got back in the car. They hated to see us go. For the longest time, as we mounted a long straight pass, they waved and ran after us like dogs that follow the family car from the farm until they loll exhausted by the side of the road. We made a turn and saw them again, and they were still running after us. “Ah this breaks my heart!” cried Neal punching his chest. “How far do they carry out these loyalties and wonders! What’s going to happen to them? Would they try to follow the car all the way to Mexico City if we drove slow enough?” “Yes” I said, for I knew. We came into the dizzying heights of the Sierra Madre Oriental. The banana trees glemed golden in the haze. Great fogs yawned beyond stonewalls along the precipice. Below the Moctezuma was a thin golden thread in a green jungle mat. Steams rose from down there and mingled with the upper airs and great atmospheres like white heaven propelled among the bushy peaks. Strange crossroad towns on top of the world rolled by, with shawled Indians watching us from under hatbrims and rebozos. All had their hands outstretched. They had come down from the backmountains and higher places to hold forth their hands for something they thought civilization could offer and they never dreamed the sadness and the poor broken delusion of it. They didn’t know that a bomb had come that could crack all our bridges and banks and reduce them to jumbles like the avalanche heap, and we would be as poor as them someday and stretching out our hands in the samesame way. Our broken Ford, old Thirties upgoing America Ford, rattled through them and vanished in dust. At Zimapan, or

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