These postcards contain ghostly visions of black uniformed, rear-guard functionaries
enjoying the view from their verandas in the hills.
Moments of the most exquisite taste
and flattering service
from a kindly host.

These postcards contain spiritual renewal in a crystalline pool
and evidence of progressive state planning
in support of a new economy
in service of global

that transform the valley into a network of modern highways,
commercializing both play
and escape into
the surrounding hills
where folk life serves postcard purposes

though there is evidence of reconstruction at some railway crossings:
grading the embankment and repair
of a rusted signal
associated with an unused
switching mechanism.

The waiters have come to know me
at the café where I regularly take my coffee on the balcony
and review my language lessons
or simply read.
In illo tempore, the anthropologist felt no compulsion
to descend from the veranda
or engage the people.
What forms of engagement are possible?
A smile that shows the teeth?
Caravaggio’s self-reflexive grimace,
provocative gambler.

Donald Wellman | Mudlark No. 34
Contents | /Oleo Negro