A Cautionary Tale

A wonderful poem by Sandra Spencer.

I can’t remember who originally sent this to me, but it found me just as Ric and I were setting out for a long sojourn in Mexico. Now that I am back in Canada for a bit it has become even more meaningful to me. Not everyone shares Sandra’s perspective or experience but all I can say is, I wish I’d written this.

A Cautionary Tale

I was warned.
So many times it lost its potency.
By well-meaning friends
living in “safe” gated communities with armed guards
By acquaintances
who have never been here
By media reports
glamorizing and spreading alarm
Who have a different definition of danger. And of what constitutes safety.

Stupid me!
I didn’t listen
to any of it.
Adventurous, perhaps with a death wish,
I didn’t look.
Worse. I wasn’t careful.
In “dangerous” Mexico,
I was robbed.
Stupid, stupid me!

Yes, Mexico…
stole from me…
A smile.
At first.
And then,
they got bolder
and took…
A laugh.
and bolder still, they ran off with…
my poor self-image.

Which turned into a larger felony: They took …
to fill me with compliments!
Telling me
how wonderful it is…
to be a woman
of experience.
Who smiles.
Who laughs.

Time after time. Again and again.
Until finally, I believed them.

As I was smiling and laughing, and actually trusting myself,
They had the nerve to go and pick-pocket my lingering self-doubts,
my well-nurtured insecurities including
my belief that “real beauty” was limited to youth…

While I was still reeling in shock,
from having been robbed, and pick-pocketed
Mexicans took
the opportunity to kill my previous ideas of what constituted
“hospitality” ,
replacing it with a generosity
that is frightening
to even try to emulate,
yet so, so fortunate to know.

See how really dangerous Mexico is?
And it got even worse!

I hadn’t recovered from such brutal behavior, when
they committed another truly horrible,
almost unspeakable crime.
They gave me hope and optimism.
About who I was. About who I could be.
About who we could be together.

Amongst wrapping me in love and force-feeding me laughter and
compliments and smothering me in generosity
and unfathomably fabulous hospitality,
I was rendered helpless.

Stupid, stupid, stupid me.

I did not cry for help – or run away.
Mexico took complete advantage of my situation and committed the
biggest atrocity of all. Once again, they stole …
my heart – and my soul.

Now I’m so scared –
deeply, utterly terrified –
that I cannot return the favor.

Never happier, I steal away…
to wish
this kind of “danger” on everyone.

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