Zero Latitude


Susan Smith Nash



Dirt stings.The sky is in strips.Blue comes in thin, almost transparent wafers of oblivion.As usual, I am wanting more than I know what to express, but unnerved by it all.


Iím sitting on a dusty rock, overlooking Quito.Iím not sure how or why I got here.They built the largest cathedrals in the western hemisphere on the Incan Temples of the Sun and Moon.Talk about a paradigm shift.


Iím here.No one knows or cares.Least of all myself.The dusty passageways scream to me.My Spanish is rusty, and I think of ways to shape my mouth into the syllables and consonants of Barcelona.Catalan is the language of independence.It is a philosophy of avant-garde that allows me to exist on the border between rational thought and dream.At least that is what I imagine.Barcelona is far from here.


Quito is a language of destiny, of geographical determinism.Weíre here.You and I are together.You laugh?You are with me --if not in body, in spirit.


The air is dry.Adrenaline is wet.Sweat comes to me like a vision, or stars falling down onto the equator.I am split in half.


Youíll have something to say to me, but I wonít know how to respond.


What do you say to someone who was once a child combatant?Unwillingly, I might add.What happens when the person who always expected to go out in a blaze of glory somehow survives?Does that mean one has outlived oneís relevance?


Itís a question Iíve been afraid to ask.


Finally, this is a new beginning, or at least something I can call a starting point.Somewhere night comes down to this Ė a conference call to the stars and the moon, and Iím wondering what the next day will bring.


We have places to go, but Iím not sure where my heart really lies.Security and fear are not the same thing.Theyíre not even related, although some would like to think so.The pager, cell phone, PDA and other forms of control I wear are forlorn imitations of logic, armor, control.Of course, they donít work here.


A bus drives by.Women are looking at my blonde hair.I am preparing myself to get into a taxi and drive to a small mountain village where I will buy small hand-made bread-dough sculptures of the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus.


After that, what does my future hold?


I donít know.I donít want to ask.