“There’s a lot of waiting in the drama of experience.” 
                                                     Lyn Hejinian, Oxota 

No signal from the interface except for a frozen half-bitten fruit. 
Other than that, no logos. An hour is spent explaining 

to the group what I’ve forgotten, to do with the mistranslation 
of a verb that means driftingbut can imply deviance.

The next hour goes by trying to remember, in the back of my mind, 
the name of the artist who makes paintings on inkjets.      

Why I’d think of him escapes me. Now my gaze circles the yoga bun 
of the tall woman in front of me. I didn’t pay $20 to contemplate 

the back of her head. It’s killing me. The pillars and plaster 
saints with their tonsures floating amid electronic sound waves. 

At such volume they could crumble. The virgin safe in a dimly lit 
niche as the tapping on my skull and the clamor of bones or killer 

bees assaults the repurposed church. This is what I sought, while 
in another recess I keep hearing Violeta’s “Volver a los diecisiete” 

and seventeen-year-olds marching against the nonsense of arming 
teachers. If I were an instrument. A bassoon. In the source language

we don’t say “spread the word.” Pasa la voz is our idiom, easily 
mistaken for a fleeting voice. From the back row all I see is fingers 

gliding in sync with her vocalizations. How fitting a last name 
like halo. Lucky for us here time is measure and inexplicable 

substance. That’s when I decide to stop fighting the city. Use it in my 
favor. Speak to strangers. Demolish the construct in the performance.


Copyright © 2019 by Mónica de la Torre. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 23, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I was at a concert at a church in Brooklyn when I wrote most of the notes for ‘Divagar.’ I had recently read Yoshimasu Gozo's selected poems, Alice Iris Red Horse (New Directions, 2016), edited by Forrest Gander. This delirious collection of works in and on translation inspired me to try to write a piece that followed the way my thoughts and associations spun in all directions and became interconnected while I was having an ecstatic listening experience. I rarely write in these kinds of settings. In a way, I was trying out a method that would be more open and porous to my everyday experiences in NYC. Instead of seeing these as distractions, I could embrace them and fold them into my writing.”
Mónica de la Torre