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.
A Short Tablature of Loss
A funeral home before the funeral.
The ghosts it despises.
Evaporated holy water.
Messiah of satin roses.
The prayer before it becomes a prayer:
in the throat, the machine for lamenting.
Musk of kindling after fire.
Char, as in: these hands are reaching,
but all they can grasp is air.
The road the hearse used to carry the body
to the wormhole.
A sling carrying a body with broken clocks.
My mother in her mainframe, captive
to pumps, pipes, irrigation tubes.
The spotlessness of her gown,
immaculate hem of nurses’ smocks.
Wasping of night hours invading morning,
spreading tick-tock like spilled salt.
The way they pulled the needles off, as if freeing
a smoker’s lung from its escutcheon.
My grandmother in her wheelchair
at Good Samaritan Nursing Home, rubbing
a rosary into dust, and flecks of gold leaf
on her lap, and the way she would stare
at a space in the wall as if God was speaking
in that language.
Hurricane calm. Before the posts prayed.
Coven of whistling thorns.
After the relocation of water: blessing and blessed.
Coming home to that shack on Calle Tulipan.
How the lawn had yellowed as phlegm.
How the blocks under the house had worried themselves loose.
My father, who'd lost his leg in Korea, sprinting
along the fields to save our grapefruit from frost
and in his speed two spinnerets playing pat-a-cake.
The mark of the poor: tentativeness.
A body crimpled into cassocks. The sunflower field
where it was abandoned, and the moon in its resignation.
The dream of all hunters: to justify an absence
that requires sacrifice of innocent things.
Pulling petals from a dayflower to form a fence.
Smoothing a rock to make a false eye.
As if creating the missing of things
could cure the loss of some others.