Puente del Inca

— Barbara Saxton

Bright mustard sulphur:
this natural rock bridge,
whose surreal appeal
delighted the likes
of Charles Darwin.

Gleaming icicle teeth
drool their sparkling teardrops
into clear thermal pools.

A centuries-old route over Rio Cuevas,
for Incas guiding their herds
past Cerra Aconcagua to Mendoza’s
wide valley below.

Listen closely: the condors are circling above
this slippery stone orifice, screaming
their warning of smallpox, typhus…oblivion,
to travelers too ancient to benefit
from pale green healing stones
being hawked in the tourist-fed grottos
that wind through steep walls
of pure snow.

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