HOW RUGS GET SOLD
By Margaret Van Every
José the rug vendor by the side of the road
will tell you he comes from Oaxaca
where his family raises the sheep,
dyes the wool, and weaves the rugs.
Pick your favorite, says he, gesturing
at myriad rugs of clashing hues,
stacked and hanging, clamoring for
adoption. Take them home and
try them out; exchange them if you will.
He studies you intently, sidles close
and murmurs guapa in your ear,
then gauges whether flattery has enhanced
his rug’s appeal. If not, he offers
a discount specially for you,
10 percent off in exchange for... a beso.
You wonder if your Spanish
or your hearing is amiss.
You ponder if he’ll offer next
the whole-rug discount, but instead
you present your cheek and then
to your surprise he finds your lips.
And now you exit this bizarre stage,
giddy, with a rolled-up rug beneath your wing
as over and again you replay the scene,
savoring a phantom impression on the mouth
that lingers like Oaxaca heat.