The Páramo Train

 Lucia Damacela


The Andes, I have seen them from above, running on loneliness and shivers; they go on forever. The páramo, the passing place on the way from the city by the estuary to the city by the sky. 

When dad was alive and I was twelve, La Nariz del Diablo; I imagined a rollercoaster ride where coins would fall from our pockets, and the cóndor would eat from my hands the offering I brought, my wonderment. 

The cool mountain wind squeezing out tears like rain falling horizontally, tears soaring straight ahead, like a bullet train, like the drops of a lime stomped by the boot of the hacienda’s owner on its way to collect the tribute from the peasants, a few generations ago. 

I wish the train would ride horizontally, but no hope. It goes up and up, a snake climbing in concertina moves. The train charges forward and I go back in time, in the same railroad. A girl travels to the big city with her father. The father will see a yesteryear friend; the girl will meet the friend’s son. They will play cards until the light bulbs start blinking at them, and she will feel like a grown up for the first time. 

The mountains, all that Sun, the king, the god, Inti –the Sun crashing on their stained glass windows– we are visiting the church, just like we did before. The light, emboldened, interviews the Stations. This, our Via Dolorosa; heading with dad to the snowy slopes. 

The Sun looks at us from the side now. Our best side. The blue above is the blue of truth, splashed with purple and orange and red, raw scrambled eggs of divine birds, ancestors of the Cóndor. 

The faces of the Andes. The survivors climbed up, like mountain lions (by the way, the Cougar sends a message: stop using its name in vain). The little kids, apples on their cheeks, hold their hats to protect them from the wind’s meanderings and listen to the wind, not to those who believe that the wind is meandering. And they breathe mountain, the brave version. 

And we know, in our own different ways, that we are one with the land; which brings me to Dad’s ashes. They are snowed under now. 



Lucia Damacela's work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as RiverLit, Poetry Quarterly, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Mulberry Fork Review, Slippery Elm, and in a few short story collections. Born in Ecuador, Lucía currently lives in Singapore, from where she tweets as @lucyda.