“With the rain,” he explains, “the grass, the weeds,
grow fast, they cover things up, the ground
all looks the same. When the prod goes in easily
we know that’s where someone’s been digging.
Almost always we find a grave—we call
them graves, they’re not really, just corpses
thrown into holes and covered up. Five we found
without heads. Others with hands tied,
tape wrapped around their faces. I lost
weight at first—I kept throwing up, the smell,
the horribleness of decomposing bodies.
Now I pray, for each one that we find
I pray.”

Marcelino is a big man, balding,
with almost invisible eyebrows on a face
round like a pumpkin. He has no children
but two nephews disappeared—“something
to do with the Zetas” is all he knows. Their parents
fled Veracruz to protect the younger children
but Marcelino’s wife—a Cristiana, evangelical,
saw Marcelino finding their remains in a vision
so with the others he searches, fidgety
despite bodily bulk, hypochondriac,
displaced by young bucks from his Pemex
employment as an uncertified engineer.
“He likes to explain things,” the woman
with the scar tells me. “It is good
that he is here.” Fulfilling his wife’s visions,
she could add. Or perhaps his own.



ROBERT JOE STOUT  writes, reads and goes to baseball games in Oaxaca, Mexico and shares sofa and computer space with his Siamese cat. His fiction has appeared in And/Or, Sin Fronteras, Southern Humanities Review and his poetry has received Pushcart Prize nominations. He earned a B.A. in journalism from Mexico City College, has served on human rights delegations and curses computer complexities

More from Robert: http://www.robertjoestout.weebly.com