Two hours from Santiago by the Pato Piraña bus,
the cookie-makers hawk their dulces on the corner.
They hang their baskets on tree branches; they are tired
as men who stoop over workbenches all day.
In college, I stayed in a hotel over the square,
the sweet smell of manjar curled like a sleeping cat
in the back of every closet—while outside, the vendors
called prices to the children scrambling home for lunch.
I was so far from home.
One day, three years into a marriage that took my husband
to another far ocean, I would dream back that too-bright place.
Another wives’ club dinner, another river-city blackout,
and surely I know it all goes on somewhere still:
those white-eared dogs jumping at the trees;
the schoolgirls sitting cross-legged by the fountain,
teasing and flirting—though I imagine it’s possible
the buses have long stopped coming,
the highway petering out one day a few miles from town,
and the black-capped drivers getting out at the end of the line
and scratching their heads, peering into the tall grass
where an old dirt road used to be.