Following are a number of prose poems or word paintings written while travelling in the Andes Mountains between Puyo and Alausi, Ecuador in 1998. Usually I travelled by bus; an experience at once humbling, intimate and uplifting. I love buses.
THE CONDOR’S BACK
Clouds bloom at our feet, the condors back glistens in the misted light below. We glide, he and I, through the steaming cauldron, oblivious to the cotton batten-wrapped villages far below us.
Beneath me slides his disappearing majesty. Sad, solitary one; his mate’s the victim of sacrifice. His children found in zoos. Hated enemy of the poor, whose scrawny sheep he carries off; the enveloping mists encase him like a shroud.
What an experience to actually be looking at this majestic bird from above him! It is not uncommon to be driving through or over the clouds in the Ecuadorian Andes Mountains.
Out of Alausi
An exceprt from the longer poem by E. J. Brunton
Oh Mountain! You’ve a froth of cloud pinned to your voluminous green lap like a snow-white hanky pinned to a lady’s skirt
The mountains are rounded like a giants cast off hats; here banded by straw huts; there adorned with cows.
Just out of Alausi, Indians in red ponchos are jammed into truck beds like strawberries in a crate.
The lion-mountains are clothed in yellow velvet, panting in the drought. The road is walled at places by dried mud cliffs.
Smoky Indians descend the bus at remote spots. No sign of trail nor hut, just endless crags, roiling cauldrons of trapped clouds, gorges and scrub.
Where are they going?
A ragged boy with twice-too-long sleeves flaps by like a fledgling condor.
The man ploughs his field and sows his abundant seed into the furrow’s depth
From this union of man and earth are born their edible children
The man gives the mother nothing but dung and water
Somehow she survives and rouses her exhausted womb again and again to bring forth fruit
She feeds at times on the rotting bodies of her progeny and is satisfied
The man is old and stooped now. Soon he will die. There will be other men to plant their seed in her warm belly but all will become hers in time.
Totally and forever.
An excerpt from the longer poem by E.J. Brunton
We roll on swift rubber feet just inches from a 150 foot drop. Puertos al Cielo or Heaven’s Gate they’ve named the waterfall that splashes over the road eroding the silent curve.
From the Sangay bus we crane our necks ever upward. The mountains, like headless green lions, stretch out their paws to play with tiny huts. Waterfalls are gushing white wounds on the lions’ flanks. Manta de la Novia (Bridal Veil), Cascada San Jorge. A solitary swallow swoops by.
Where are the condors?