Looking out my Backdoor: The PO, a prayer and poetry


August 2, 2018

I live at #3 Nopales on a small piece of the Rancho Esperanza set aside for a dozen or so retirement homes. That’s the sum total of any pretense to an Americano community in this still traditional small village of Etzatlan. It’s not an official government-recognized address. No mail delivery.

Jane emailed me that a woman she knows, a woman without benefit of email (how quickly we believe if we do it, everybody does it.) would like to correspond with me. This is not my first such message.

But it is the first time I addressed the issue in a non-convoluted way, by-passing third party relays and such non-workable ideas. I often have great, even brilliant, ideas that don’t work.

The local mail service is in a corner office above the Mercado. A tiny corner office. Mail is delivered by bicycle carriers from blue pouches hung on their battered bicycles.

Everybody knows everybody in that small town way. There is little need for individual boxes. The mail boxes off in the corner take up about three feet by four feet of space. Little keyed doors just like ours.

I presented duplicate copies of my passport, my electric bill to prove where I live, my Residente Temporal card. The amiable clerk filled out what seemed an inordinate number of pages of information on her computer while I stood waiting at the counter.

This happened to be an unusually hot morning, one of the few in which it had not rained in the night, in this, the rainy season. Not a breath of air reached the upstairs office. Mucho calor!

A half-hour later, when the clerk finished my application paperwork, she explained that she had to go downstairs, across the street, to the internet café to print the papers for me to sign. The office did not have its own printer. This is not unusual. I’m used to it. Didn’t bat an eye. This is business in a small village.

I secured a chair from an office next door. Sat and waited. There’s always a line at the internet café. And of course, everyone knows everyone else. Chit chat of the day. This is not unusual. I picture all this while I wait. I’m used to it. No problema. I have a chair.

An hour later, I signed numerous pages and now have a key and an official snail mail, real mail address: APDO Postal #3, 46500—Etzatlan, Jalisco, Mexico. Please do write.

I grabbed fruits and vegetables in the Mercado downstairs and headed to the car which was parked on the side street by the Cathedral.

I was suddenly and inexplicably visited with an overwhelming urge to go inside the Cathedral.

I sat in the ancient wooden pew and burst into tears. I think that might be prayer. Wordless, no entreaty, no requests for help, no expectations, no thanksgiving, just hot tears. Twenty minutes later, I thanked the Great Spirit and was ready to go home.

After washing my face and putting away my groceries, I sat down to work on my poetry.

First and foremost, I am a poet. Ha — wait a minute — I saw that. I saw your eyes glaze over. All poetry is not vague or incomprehensible. I believe my work is accessible, easily understood, simple even. I write everyday stuff in everyday language.

I’ve been invited to read at the monthly gathering of poets at Poulsbohemian Coffee in Washington in September. This is a great honor for me, to once again share my poetry with friends where I once lived.

So as long as I’m sharing personal information, let me also share this. I have begun an online forum for my poems: http://www.montanatumbleweedpoetry.blogspot.com. Please join me. I promise to not confound you.

It occurs to me that Mexican mail, prayer and poetry have commonalities. I’m never sure the message will get through, it might take a while, and the response might not be what I most want. But why should that stop me?


Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com. Email [email protected]


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