Market Song

Radios blare from stalls all over the market. Norteño music competes with banda, a fast-talking DJ promotes a livestock auction, and a mariachi trumpet offers a wordless lament that is nearly drowned out by the festive babble of families and friends chatting and laughing as they breakfast on quesadillas made with blue-corn tortillas, steaming tamales, and savory molletes.

A busker weaves through the crowd, one hand holding a battered guitar. He hops onto a concrete ledge to dodge a heavily laden produce cart making its way down the concrete aisle like a container ship passing through the Panama Canal, and, finding himself on an improvised stage, brings his instrument into position and starts to play.

The chords are nostalgic, comforting, classic. How many times did I hear them growing up among Northern California’s walnut trees, strawberry fields, and grape vines? How many times have I heard them since, either far from home or driving aimlessly on dirt roads with the window down and the sun warm on my face?

The busker, singing in accented English, comes to the chorus. He wants to know if I’ve ever seen the rain.

Of course I have.

Hundreds of times, if not thousands. But not here. Not in this town. Not on this bright new day with the street dogs yet sleeping on cobblestones shaded by the ruined pyramid standing at the center of town.

Not on this day that my friends tell me falls in the middle of a rainy season perfectly timed to nourish corn and beans, alfalfa and nopales.

The busker finishes and the radios retake center stage. I place a shiny coin in his palm and imagine that the rain, when I see it, will shine with perfection like everything else I’ve seen so far in Cholula, where I hope to make my new home.

A few hours later, clouds gather, rain falls, and I am not disappointed.

I’ll get back to the prompts in a minute. I just found this on the hard drive and it seemed like a good way to start a new calendar.

Leave a comment with a living thing, an inanimate object, and a location and I will write a story based on your prompt and tag you when I publish it.

Photo by Jim Latham © 2021

Jim’s Taco Fund (trying not to be a starving artist)

If you’ve ever tossed some coins to a subway saxophonist or a juggler working a stoplight, please consider sending a few bucks my way — $5 covers a day’s worth of tacos; $3 buys a fancy coffee!