NOCHE DE NIÑOS MUERTOS
Darkness, the sound of creaking oarlocks,
an hourglass lantern swinging on a prow hook
rocked by a lone boatman. In the distance
a small island in Lake Patzcuaro, Janitzio,
a town crowned by an adobe church,
as smoothly rounded as a bleached skull,
a town, a humped belly of white-fish houses
stuck in the one pin-cushion hill, a tiara of
lit candles wavering like moonlight through
rubies. Diego, Frida, Leon, Natalia, André,
his wife Jacquelinedisembark onto a creaking
dock, disappear into the yellow wax glow of
a cemetery crowningthe hill. Marimba music,
a thousand votary candles in cups, brilliant
silver light .The man playing the marimba
uses human shin bones for hammers. Leon
watches an aging couple carrying the corpse
of their beragged daughter, seating her skeleton
at a picnic table, offering her wine-sopped bread.
Leon leans to Diego: —What’re they saying?
—Family business. Births. They don’t have to
mention deaths, the dead know the dead. Marriages,
the usual … how the fishing’s going. Skulls,
masks of skulls, a skelton in tuxedo, top hat.
A skeleton in Bishop’s robes, mitre, kisses
the tuxedo. Leon looks at another mausoleum,
sees himself and Natalia carrying Lev’s corpse
clad in his best blue serge suit, seating him
at a metal fold-out picnic table in a deck chair.
Leon tears a loaf of black bread, offers a handfull
to Lev: —My son, you probably want to know
how goes the struggle. We’re inching along.
The world is drawing its breath in for a long siege …
Lev, tell me, Is there a God?
Lev’s face, cheeks gone, nose gone, still skin
on forehead. Leon turns away in time to see André
palm a small ceremonial bowl from a headstone.
—What’re you doing? André pocketing the bowl:
—A man should have what he loves
—At the expense of these poor people?
—Don’t be so bourgeois, Leon.
Leon waves Breton off in an Ah, go on, gesture
then: —It’s over, whatever there was.
End of conversation!
He turns away from Breton, faces Diego:
Come, translate for me, teach me the idiom.
Diego says:—In the beginning,
En el comienzo … es la palabra … say it …
—En el comi … enzo … Leon echoes … es la pala … bra.
from Shooting Script: Door of Fire