What I won’t tell you is how I became a flute
and brushed against lips but there was no music.
When the blows came furious as juniper.
There were days when I was a parachute
and the wind was free but kind. I won’t lie
and say there were no such days. There were days
when I curled into hailstone and pretended
it was only breezing outside. Another man’s music.
Eventually the need to unfurl overcame the need
to stay anchored. Tsunami greeted me in its maw.
I have his smell all about me but it dwindles every day.
What I won’t tell you is how I escaped. One day
I met a map at a bar. It pointed to a gash on its head
and said I could get there by becoming someone else.
Most of me was still scrawled on a carpet under a belt.
What was there to lose that I hadn’t already lost?
Alone, in the middle of the night, the road smelled
like freshly sawed mesquite. I wormed my way out.
A buckle still loomed in the background.
And I told myself, there is no gleam.
How to Dismantle a Heart
My mother used to say the heart makes music, but I've never found the keys. Maybe it's the way I was brought into the world: dragged across a river in the night's quiet breathing, trampling through trash and tired runaways as if tearing a window's curtains. We were barred from entry but repeatedly returned, each time becoming a darker part of a tunnel or a truck bed. The sky was so still the stars flickered like carbide lamps. We told time through the landmarks of the dead like cataphiles—the warren of a little girl’s murder, the wolf’s irrigation pipe. When you see enough unwinding, beating is replaced by the safety of wings. This isn't goodness. The voiceless are never neutral. Bones sway to elegy. Ebony burrows into the earth as a refugee. I grew up, eventually, but the sun was like a cliff with a false bottom: you'd drop and come out the top again. Enough carcasses draped over the dry brush. Enough water towers empty as busted rattles. When you're a child, the heart has a stiff neck and demands to be played. Later, it limps. Before my knees could begin to ache, I crawled to the levee looking for a broken string. Some wayward zil. I stretched my heart over a manhole and drummed it with broken pliers. It wouldn’t even quaver. It snapped back into a seed, dry and shriveled and blank.