Border Patrol Agent Will Not Complete His Shift

Roy G. Guzmán

                                                                March 2014

After the three women turn themselves in, the man drives them
from his river of fasting to a hungering brush-brimmed spot.
On the mother’s wrists, he engraves his ennui, though her pulse
will not submit. Like caravels, mother and daughter break free
from his grip.Through horrid hosanna he tries to split
frontiers with his buckle. Begs the girl to forgive his feet.
In the back of the truck, blood & duct tape. It takes a toll
to corral the nervous hooting, the lamb’s inefficient hands.
A throng of crows splashes on her thin shoulders, on soccer
net poles that struggle to deflect the man’s frantic entrances,
his tenacious fiddle of lust. Rosaries drape on deserts
clotting inexperience. Gunshot after midnight. Maybe asylum.
How will they entomb that absence in his mouth after the verse
of his head has unlatched to fill tulip gardens the length of stars? 

 

More by Roy G. Guzmán

My Great-Grandmother’s Egg Thief

was never officially charged           though she considered her son’s
         wife prime suspect                Rita            my great-grandmother’s
name         never trusted her daughter-in-law                    & maybe
rightfully so          Mamachela’s hazel eyes & light skin       as myth goes
         two reasons a man would let his            Trojan horse loose
         though in this case      after the third child died        she left
my grandfather Jorge         to raise four more            found another
home with a soldier       a newfound pariah status               which is why
         when I took a drama class at the University of Chicago
         & we were studying Ibsen’s A Doll’s House      the renowned
British actor who co-taught the course           was appalled when I said
         Nora still had a future to look forward to                  even in the 19th
century         surely white feminism               never met the Latinas in my family

                                                                                                             & few
things match the warmth of an egg                right after it’s been laid
         During summer        eggshells babble                    on the ground
         the evidence of a predator’s mischief                     a branch-buttressed
nest’s disposal      or a bird content with gravity’s assignment                 A man  
was jailed four times          for stealing 700 rare wild bird eggs:
         osprey               golden eagle            red kites            peregrine falcons               merlins  
         redwings  avocet In his residence / maps climbing
equipment    camouflage clothes   miniscule holes drilled
on the shells Thou shalt not steal Thou shalt not covet
         thy neighbor’s wife    Not the contents        but the collectible casings
         How do you return  everything you’ve stolen
from us?

Control the thing      you most love      at the root of your addiction
         Folks camped outside Rita’s house           to have their tarot cards
read     before she aged & forgot      who she was        forgot how to bathe
         reeked of piss        chicken manure       eau de cologne               To schedule
a consultation           men rolled from under cars           stars in their own
Cantinflas films       greasy hair         crème fraiche in the corners
of their mouths   the women gossiped incredulously        after flattening
corn on clay ovens for their patrones                     matriarching all the ways
         we’d outlast the policies of the rich

                                                              The thefts of Rita’s
favorite hen’s brown eggs   the source of fantastical tales
         populated by ghostly       headless horsemen          who abducted
children if they ran            away from home       or women
         pregnant with black-magicked frogs         or that man with a limp
deemed hideous        from false accruement           During sessions
         I’d climb the long vines                of Rita’s backyard tree
         swing eight feet from the ground                with the visitors’ children
         one of us would plunge        rip a new skirt           a striped shirt
passed down three generations     Our mothers would scare us
by paying my great-grandmother handsomely       for a remedy
         to exile our demons       once and for all               Leave them alone 
she'd yell at them               They're just kids! 

                                                        Years later I think about
Rita’s backyard       the trees that once swiveled      their branches
near the ground        It’s none of your business what I do with my life
         I hear Rita say— daughter of an indigenous woman
         & a man who          like most men in my family          left his breath
on everything        we call mirror     or past            a man who tried
to rape Mamachela his         daughter-in-law         some say he did
         Rita—        who bought land           with her own savings           a rare feat
for a woman in those days      in a country where women
         with the simple dyeing of their hair can get mistaken
with a gang’s affiliation     lose their heads          Rita—   who lost
most of that land to the government            on which Tegucigalpa’s
airport was built

                              which means that in the lines          of my wide
nose      my plump ears        my dense lips          i bear the burden
         of every arrival             every departure             my great-grandmother
         who resisted losing her memory                but lost it anyway
         as her son lost his       kicked in the bath        spat out the spoon
concocted spells so potent       indigenous secrets      mixed
with loss           which sojourn parallel            the strength of a thousand
stolen acres in her         the rest of us are still trying            to figure out
why she shakes our houses at night           when we all stood there
         in silence       watching her track the bandit’s clues          not knowing
         all of us were stealing her eggs          all of us hungering for love