Not the riverbank. Not the sedges
or the black hum
of blow flies that feed off a corpse.
Not the river. Not
its indifferent current. Not the bridge
or how it bemoans
the loss of someone who’s left town
—the year, the date,
unimportant. Not the address scribbled
onto scrap paper.
Not the hospital or the room at home,
pulsing and humid.
Not the midwife who prays between
parted legs. Not
the just born baby. Not his open mouth
forming its first
word because the word is stillborn. Not
its collapse, a memory of its last breath.
No. None of this.
I pretend I’m well-mannered and polite.
Wet with my grief.
Barefoot. Burdened by footprints I follow,
those I’ve trekked
in the mud. I’ve come with no good sense
of discretion. I seek
sins and secrets, what remains I excavate
from the coffin
or confessional. My tongue is pickled
in a jar of ink.
The months have fed from my body
by the handful.
Even so, I foam at the mouth for what
was never mine.
Copyright © 2022 by Ángel García. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 28, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.