The banana dwarf.
THE BANANA DWARF I turn the market corner, then peer down the busiest Santo Domingo sidewalk traffic as thronged with surplus foot peddlers and shoppers as the vehicular jam-up on the mainstreet intersection. The number of side-by-side lanes, in road or walkway, varies from three to ten: pedestrains, buglike motorcarts, bikes and cabs whirl and slither around each other, weave in and out of formation, like couples on a disco-clogged dance floor. . . . At a city block corner, three roads distant, I see--gliding swiftly through a thick huddle of heads and shoulders--a whirring machine! Is it a crane, two blurred yellow derrick beams swung on each side of the advancing figure or apparatus--but not mowing down the crush of bodies it plows across? The heads bob this way and that, steering clear of those thick yellow posts hoisting burdens, two on each side, revealed to be tall stalks of bananas--a pair suspended from each long wooden pole. The banana dwarf takes springy strikes, so much bounce in pads of his moccasins, he matches a gymnast on a trampoline; for length and limber play, his transverse rods resemble pole vaulaters' posts. amazingly, no single bananas fly loose--the ripest clusters, even, stay intact--his difficult balancement both dance step and juggler's lofty art. This spry, red-cheeked midget looms tall, tall--and oh!--still taller for the yellow tiered forest of fruit he wields with his graceful plump shoulders, his back and neck muscles rippling. The taut fruit of his flesh: cords and sinews, sleek flexors bunched under his skin--bananas themselves--bulge the human rind of his upper torso. . . . He sways nearer and nearer. Though I walk jauntily toward him, I seem to stand still, to hang in a pool of banana fluff, banana yellow light emitted from the stalks: a cloud, in which I float, weightless, tongueless, wanting to speak--to beg a choice ripe banana to eat! He flies. He sings the all-saving nutrients, blessings of the Banana God. He plucks a sample banana here, a sample there, peels one, offers a munch to each of several passers-by, drops a pinch of banana in my outstretched palm. His bare chest, shoulders, shed their skins. That ripply musculature, bared and exposed, offers itself up to the eyes of one and all, to the great yellow Eye of the Banana Lord, Sun. and when he glides behind me, my Dominican pesos flicker like a new papery tongue between his teeth, the extra money bisecting his widest smile, a nine-banana spiral draped over my wrist, the coil and whorl of the golden cluster symmetrical as a pineapple, my small vine-twist of fruit wee replica of the many-tiered, many-wreathed stalks of banana garlands sung from the Banana Apostle's shoulders. . . . All those he passes--ladies of wide girth, men of tall stature, children--must duck, weave, swerve, but not one Soul collides with a single gold shaft! Their moves guided by his hops, they dodge banana flower-burst, their dance in traffic as deft as his fleet pirouettes!