The Pomegranate and the Big Crowd By Alberto Ríos

Ventura because she was hungry and because
She was curious—but more because she was curious—
Took the dare, a kiss for a pomegranate.
Everyone gathered, her friends and his. Everyone
Watched: the boys, the girls, the pigs and the chickens,
And more. Moving to the front were the children
She and Clemente would one day have,
And the children of those children, too,
Gathered and loud with everyone and everything else,
Loud as the pigs and fast as the chickens
Though she could not see them.
Still, they crowded her, and she could feel
Their anxious breathing.
This boy Clemente whom she would kiss
She would have kissed even without the pomegranate,
Though she could not say it
And was glad of this game. He suited her,
She thought. He had a strong face.
He felt what she felt. She could see him look around
But not at their friends. She could see him
Feel the shiver of the children they would have:
Their son Margarito, his two sisters
Both of whom would become nuns
If just to pray enough to take care of him,
This boy so serious he would seem like a stranger
In their arms, serious enough by himself
To make up for Clemente and Ventura
And for all the laughter
They themselves would feel,
This curious child who, as an old man
Would never trust a doctor for anything.
And his serious wife to come, Refugio,
And her sisters, Matilde and Consuelo as well,
All the people who would follow this kiss,
So many of them, and their children, too,
Everyone stood there, arms up, everyone watching,
So much noise in this moment,
This quick lending of herself
To his cheek, the way Ventura would later kiss
All these impatient children of theirs. The kiss
Seemed so small, but was filled with itself.
This small moment of affection she gave this boy
The quarter-second that it took:
There they all stood, waiting with the crowd
Egging them on, hefting the pomegranate
And pushing them toward each other.
Clemente and Ventura in that quarter-second lived
Their lives, a quarter-second not finished yet.

Alberto Ríos, “The Pomegranate and the Big Crowd” from The Theater of Night. Copyright 2006 by Alberto Ríos. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: The Theater of Night (2006)

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