Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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May 13th, 2012
     for Jordan

Today America wakes like a toddler,
rubbing the crust of Saturday from its eyes to find
49 decapitated bodies along the road
to Nuevo Leon. Limbs in trash bags. 3 a.m.
sunlight moving into the horizon.

I stand in the yard while a dragonfly
lands on the tip of my car antenna.
            The bloody show begins
again. Your wife is in labor.
There is no song to capture this day.


I go alone to water the vine tomatoes.
Heat has hugged the life from the leaves:
            such accidents come from devotion.
One ripe and ruby-hued globe has survived,
hangs, a planet in a field of debris.

            Soon the vines will be dust.
            Summer starts the process
                       of slow devouring.


Everything changes: you tell me
you are transgender, your body and mind are
separate animals that cross paths, but do not touch.
             What can you say to your wife, or to your mother
whose only word is no
                        the socket of her mouth like a fist of coal,
                                    burning deep inside your throat.

Perhaps you will meet a woman,
you tell me. She might be drunk
after half a glass of wine, laugh
at my jokes, smile with her whole face,
as real as the cracked dirt loaded over graves.


            This time next week there will be an eclipse
            like nothing we have seen since childhood.
            The moon will shove its bald head between
            us and the sun, stay lodged there for a lifetime
            of breaths, as a secret . . . 

And on the phone you’re saying her name:
Denise. The imaginary woman I’ll marry. She’ll tell me
I’m extremely sweet
as the dark ingests the city and I reach for her hand.
Then in the pitch I’ll recall the end of “Happiness” by Robert Hass—
           . . . in bed kissing, / our eyes squinched up like bats

and I’ll forget her to remember December,
my mother coming home, Christmas gifts from the church:
trash bags of dismembered doll parts, incomplete card decks,
crayons without names.


I will cry,
because even through a pinhole the moon will look like the head of a baby
crowning, the ring of blood like fire, a thing
dangerously fascinating to the eye. The baby will be jaundiced—
drink and cry and drink. I’ll drink and cry just the same.
           All that blood, and more . . . 

When I call my mother she reminds me
my grandmother has died. My cousin Shirley Mae
has died. Alexandra and Kyliyah Bain are alive, but
motherless, as we all eventually are, but

she has a boyfriend. My mother
no longer goes to bed alone. Though every morning
she calls and I am still her one son.

She limps to work
to push an elderly woman
                                    who can no longer walk.
She limps to the post office, limps
to the mirror and ignores the conflicts of the body:
            what she can no longer produce: hair,
It was not until my grandmother died that I heard her say
she loved me, that I am still her son,
                                                                        her only boy.


Why does it feel so unnatural to be this
            not a father, not yet . . . not anymore . . . 

I say parent and I watch you hold him,
I say Jonathan and I mean the person you used to be.

Already, your son reaches for your breasts
that are rising like heat off the pavement
at noon. You want to feed him. Your jaw is thinning.
People are asking questions, so you hide
like Phoebus on the day of Phaethon’s death.

But the moon slides loose from the clouds—
            a head rolling to the feet of an assassin,
                        smiling at this separation from the body,
                                   this chance to become something new.  

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