The music stopped playing years ago
but we’re still dancing.
There’s your bright skirt scissoring
through the crowd—
our hips tipping the instruments over.
You open me up and walk inside
until you reach a river
where a child is washing her feet.
You aren’t sure
if I am the child
or if I am the river.
You throw a stone
and the child wades in to find it.
This is memory.
Let’s say the river is too deep
so you turn around and leave
the same way you entered—
spent and unwashed.
It’s ok. We are young, and
our gowns are as long as the room.
I told you I always wanted a silk train.
We can both be the bride,
we can both empty our lover.
And there’s nothing different about you—
about me—about any of this.
Only that we wish it still hurt, just once.
Like the belts our fathers whipped us with,
not to hurt us but just to make sure we remembered.
Like the cotton ball, dipped in alcohol,
rubbed gently on your arm
moments before the doctor asks you to breathe.
From Cenzontle (BOA Editions, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo. Used with the permission of BOA Editions.
There is a solitude in seeing you,
Followed by your company when you are gone.
You are like heaven’s veils of lightning.
I cannot see till afterward
How beautiful you are.
There is a blindness in seeing you,
Followed by the sight of you when you are gone.
This poem is in the public domain, and originally appeared in Others for 1919; An Anthology of the New Verse (Nicholas L. Brown, 1920).