On  the  Difficulty  of  Vigilance  

The  industry  of  women  hanging  up  the  wash.   Roosters  scalloped  cries  deflecting  to  the  tin  roofs.   Coffee  in  the  percolator,  an  egg  on  the  stove.   It  is  September  in  that  part  of  the  world,  early  morning,   Nearly  six    months  after,  I  am  still  trying  to  recall  what  I  might  have  been  doing;     If  not  for  the  particular  moment  of  the  abduction,  then  at  least  on  the  day   in  question.   I’d  wanted  to  make  a  dish  and  was  disappointed  they’d  stopped  selling  kangkong   at  the  Asian  grocery.   It’s  illegal  now,  the  store  clerk  said;  no  way  to  pass  the  FDA,  too  many  people  get   sick.   Dark  green  vegetable  –  poor  man’s  food  sautéed  in  hot  oil,  crushed  garlic  with   splash  of  soy.   Suspect;  sort  of  like  crack  but  not  quite.   But  dissident.   Hollow,  tubular  stems  grown  lush  in  brackish  water.   Runners  of  green  leaves  lying  close  to  the  ground.    Rows  of  potato  creepers.   He  may  have  knelt  just  to  look,  perhaps  touch  them.    I  think  I  know  enough  to  say   he  was  that  sort  of  man.   Through  the  low  mist,  reluctant  sightings  of  the  white  van  that  pulled  up  and  took   him  by  force.   There  are  reports  he  carried  a  blue  duffel.    That  he  was  overpowered.   On  a  website  I  read  a  scanned  copy  of  his  father’s  letter.    I  did  not  know  his   mother  had  Alzheimer’s.   I  thought  by  this  time  he  would  have  been  married,  have  a  wife,  one  or  several   children.   In  our  last  year  of  high  school  he  came  to  my  house  one  weekend  with  a  stack  of   college  reviewers.   My  mother  served  us  lunch,  said  as  a  girl  she  went  to  school  with  his  father.   We  drank  instant  coffee,  he  was  quietly  earnest,  never  abstract.    I  could  not  solve   properly  for  the  hypotenuse  of  a  triangle  (which  looked  to  me  like  a  roof  blown   off  a  house).   Once,  he’d  written  for  the  newspaper  about  the  dictator’s  monument,  bust   carved  into  the  mountainside;  of  a  hydroelectric  dam.   Of  the  villages  that  lost  their  homes  for  want  of  paper  titles.  

This  week  on  the  internet,  I  read  about  another  victim,  a  young  schoolteacher   tortured,  raped  and  thrown  into  the  river,  only  twenty,  the  same  age  as  one  of  my   daughters.   Little  green  sapling,  little  dissident.   Someone  is  already  awake  while  the  rest  of  the  world  sleeps.   Coffee  in  the  percolator,  an  egg  on  the  stove.   Roosters’  scalloped  cries  deflecting  to  the  tin  roofs.   The  industry  of  women  hanging  up  the  wash.   Do  you  wonder  why  they  beat  the  laundry  on  the  stones  with  so  much  sorrow  and   fervor.     -­‐  Luisa  Aguilar  Igloria  

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