The outer passage is alive. I pass wooden tables stacked high with blushing yellow, swollen green, wrinkled brown, sharp pods, leaves, powders, petals, shavings and things. Row after row of patrons, jammed together, elbow to elbow, facing large sweating glass jars of liquid, racks of leather, and strings of metal cages filled with parrots, doves, painted buntings, cockatiels, cardinals, parakeets, and pigeons. The second layer: a faint smell of raw meat, roasting seeds, men wielding immaculate machetes, and dead bees stuck to broken panes of honeycomb. A line of plastic cups filled with stagnant warm juice, stained white shirts, brass doorknobs, spools of thread, and ragged old women, creased and decreased. I follow deeper, into the gooey center; into the heart. At the core: a metallic tang of blood, and large slabs of flesh dangle from ceiling hooks, so pungent in the narrow passageway. I look down, averting the gaze of dead pigs that hang by their feet. I stand rooted in my spot. I listen only to the soft soles of my shoes as they stick and unstick to the dried blood on the cement floor. The flies are everywhere. Refrigeration is overrated. A man cuts into a chicken. He hacks off the head, the legs, cracking open the breast with his knife. The crumpled skin is yellow – why is it so yellow? Woozy, wobbly, I breathe in the carnage. And I can taste it; metallic and wet. Nausea hits the back of my throat. A lump of bitter begins to form. I tug on my shirt. I need more space; I want out of the labyrinth. I turn and run back through the aisles of filth, past the tables of transistor radios, cheap wrist watches, the machete men, down the steps, and away from the death. I lean against a telephone pole. I am desperate for clean air, but only exhaust fumes trickle down into my lungs as I count the passing cars.



© Elle Wonders 2009–2016