What you have heard is true. I was in
his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the night.
There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house.
On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor
stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought
green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in Spanish. His
wife took everything away. There was some talk of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on
the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes:
say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table.
They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it
in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the
rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the
last of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this
scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.
-from Gathering the Tribes