Night Festival

 To reach the night festivities I press against the celebrants

an abbreviated symmetry with me at the lower end of the hill  

in a synthesis     a corporation     an exile of bodies in danger

I fear who know I have no business on the premises

or I fail to comprehend the intimation of despair

or I belong to no undercurrent of this circumstance

or what I  draw instead—now the universal grid

now a pixilated vista—configures no permission

even as the mob begins to dissipate  

                                                              and there is my father

with his remorse imposing as the Andes  

                above the great mountain savanna

his innermost ensemble of cells   my father

his subordinate and metallurgic heartache

                all the microtones of Bogotá      17th locality

of my father’ amphibian electrocardio dissection

                an alien puppetry           his Gaspard de la Nuit   

late lesson of his road mirage science            he says      I’m 

homesick for the material contradiction of our kin

                  among the living   long after the land

overcame my conformity but please

                                              spare this from your mother   

from her propensity  to disappear over time  

her 4 cardinal points in rapid alternation   her lofty

decibels and coffee-milk austerity saltines

her solitude in news print apocalypse or index cards

her Billy the Kid               Salón México     Wilshire Ebell

Pedro Armendáriz Yucatán-peninsular

recursive close-up —¿qué hora es?

my father says apúntalas the words ignominy and escrow

                too late or unspecified on the subject

of wake time surrender phosphorescent

in the dimming light of extrasensory

encircled—body before, body after—

I had for my heart a perfect measure

                to justify the untimely turn

of my neither known never noiseless

and I had for my heart in the age of consent

a little loathing                    I had a coin that fit

the slot   I had my compound fracture

declension of pain and deflated lung

irregularities of color                   But I know 

now the mistakes of my ancestry

in the style of my birthday venipuncture

and poultice for my chest infection     in the slide

transparencies of my naked limbs and chicken pox

foretold the phlebotomy of all Eerie County

I had now in my ventricles the great nebula of forgetting

abrogated law no longer larger than life

Copyright © 2021 by Roberto Tejada. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 7, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.