Sonnet for Ochún
After my left arm I washed my right, neck, décolletage,
and navel. I ate ground meat with large crystals of imported salt.
The women and men who would stroke my hair if I asked,
I thought of them fondly then sadly. At the flea market,
what I touched with a fingernail was a copper lamp, a mundane
painting of mountains, the cashier’s hum. I bought nothing I didn’t
want. In the cul-de-sac, I found clouds on leashes, loose roosters.
I thought thoughts ugly as clothespins. Reading a used book,
I suspected I knew less about death than the last person who held it.
I spat into a mirrored sink. I lost my slippers and face. To feel more
like water, I drank it. Before bed, I walked my plank of uncertainties
and plunged further into uncertainty. Am I capturing all of history
in this gesture? I shouted into the future. In the wet air of the future,
I could have but never appeared. No one was sorry but me.
Copyright © 2023 by Leslie Sainz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 20, 2023, by the Academy of American Poets.