by Andrés Cerpa
She, no one, can hold my blood like a trembling mirror in which the stars can weep,
& therefore, I walk the city unknown. I’d like to vow my silence & be done.
I can’t. I keep a belief in salvation,
in a hand reaching gently out. The click of dice in lamplight, a chewed cigar,
& my friends raising guns to the air on a rooftop,
painting the sky with their anger. The wolves’ communion, my death,
my box of ashes in a pause of wind. I don’t wanna be holy,
I want my breath to flock & spiral like birds,
but like a girl, so far from the ocean, whistling a hollow-point into the wheat fields
at twilight, as she watches her song carry, I think, Where does it end?
Powerless in love, I dreamt the deep shade of Berlin; that distance was my savior,
yet I still wanted to hold the birdcage & dwindling song: my father’s chest,
& hold my mother’s strength, to be there when she weeps. I wanted another life,
one in which my love could save them. Years after our love had ended, in its first form,
an old lover asked if I could speak, if I could finally let a woman in,
& then I remembered how she began to shatter plates as her hands trembled,
when I had no words but a bottle’s silence or shatter. We broke
everything that night, & cared deeply at the end. We thought about their beauty,
about the waste, the money we’d have to spend.
The language of our anger was frail.
It was the cheap nourishment of forgetting, not the hand, the thumb moving in a slight circular
motion to ease & say, I’m ready.
There is a language I can’t take back, a rib cage cleaned by the wolves & scattered,
a tint of red in a snow which lays my love distant. I remember taking my father’s throat
in my left hand, while my right hesitated, made snow of the Sheetrock beside him.
from Bicycle in A Ransacked City: An ElegyFind more by Andrés Cerpa at the library
Copyright © 2019 Andrés Cerpa
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Alice James Books.