In the Jardín Etno-Botánico

Snaking through mesquite
and saguaro, a long line
of jibber-jabber, pink-
necked tourists muffle
the words of the Zapotec
guide who shows us
a geometry of amaranth
and maize

we have always planted
in sacred shapes and symbols

A couple is squabbling
and teenagers flirt
as we troop through
a greenhouse of orchids
and damp

we capture the rain as
we always have, and cool
in summer with geo-thermal

Outside in the healing
garden, she picks a leaf
from a flowering plant—
crushing delicate green
with her fingers

smell this chepil—
a seasoning and vegetable
my people have eaten
for thousands of years

Folks wander and chat
while she tells the old stories—
what flourished and what
remains. Every time
she says—Oaxaca

soft syllables float
from the back of her throat
then blossom and linger


Photo by Mc Rammeo on Unsplash

Carol Sadtler

Carol Sadtler is a freelance writer and editor who does her best thinking on, near, or in the water. She lives in Chicago with her family. Her poems have appeared in RHINO poetry, pacific REVIEW, The Tishman Review, The Maine Review and other publications. She has served as an associate editor for RHINO poetry.