The weapons instructor who taught me how to properly place an AT-4 on my shoulder told me that his people spoke in poetry.
“Is an anti-tank weapon, Warrior,” he said. “Treat it like an untrustworthy friend; always keeping a strong hold on it, but touching with light fingers.”
“I will, Chief,” I said, and watched his poetry speaking lips press into a tight line that couldn’t hide the mirth crinkling his eyes. He hated when I called him Chief, so I did it every time he called me Warrior and not by my name. “Will I feel the flash on my back? After I fire it?”
“War is hot, girl Warrior, full of recoils and burns. Just like raising a child,” he said, “it leaves the mother cracked and stretched and changed and scarred.”
“Reading does the same for the mind, Chief.” Remembering what he said about his people, I added, “But the scars left by stories are poetic tattoos.”
He said nothing for a long while. Not even after he removed the practice AT-4 from my shoulder and placed it on its spot in the weapons rack. Then he gave me one of his deep amber-eyed looks, and said, “What have you been reading, Word Eating Warrior?”
“One Hundred Years of Solitude, Poetry Speaking Chief. It’s about—”
“I’ve read Márquez,” he said. “What’s your favorite part? The war between Aureliano Buendia and Úrsula Iguarán, I bet.”
“No.” I shook my head and smiled. “I love how Márquez portrays Remedios the Beauty. The woman is clearly mad, but he decides to write that she ‘was not a creature of this world.’ He didn’t write lies. He just made madness beautiful, even desirable and uplifting. He plucked Remedios out of the dirt. And she ascended.”
Chief smiled; an enormous smile full of gums and teeth too white for his dark-honeyed complexion. “A Caribe Warrior who sees beauty in the lunacy of another. I wonder if you’ll find poetry in war.”
“I don’t,” I said, leaving the classroom without looking at Chief’s face.
Inspired by Magpie Tales 219 (see image below), a bit of reality, and the following quote from Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude:
“Remedios the Beauty was not a creature of this world… She reached twenty… wandering naked through the house because her nature rejected all manner of convention…
Remedios the Beauty began to rise… abandoning with her the environment of beetles and dahlias and passing through the air with her as four o’clock in the afternoon came to an end, and they were lost forever with her in the upper atmosphere where not even the highest-flying birds of memory could reach her.”
Every word you wrote was poetry to my heart, my beloved Gabo. I hope you are flying with Remedios the Beauty, if that would make your soul happy (GGM 1927-2014).
“Close”, by Martin Stranka