A Light Store in the Bowery
Some love is like a light store
you slip inside only to escape
the rain. Something to see, it turns out:
the plasma lamps, mosque and lava,
the elegant icicles of the chandeliers,
shapes and shades so insistently singular
that rooms can’t help but happen around them,
lives can’t help but acquire choices and chances
inside. Some love is like an old owner
who when a child walks in with her parents
can only imagine shatterings.
And some love is like that child
asking with an earnest and exemplary awe,
“Where do they keep the dark?”
I’d melt in your houses.
I hide in blue shadows –
appearing only at night:
a bride in a glittering veil,
pale and shining
as if lit from inside.
You offer me a snowman:
a frozen dummy
with eyes of coal.
But I want a husband
with a heart in my bed,
who’ll lie with me
where the snow’s blown
layer on layer like petals,
drifting to sleep in a heat
like hot sand, like ashes,
the water in his blood
turning to crystals of ice.
I watch a woman take a photo
of a flowering tree with her phone.
A future where no one will look at it,
perpetual trembling which wasn’t
and isn’t. I have taken photos of a sunset.
In person, “wow” “beautiful”
but the picture can only be
as interesting as a word repeated until emptied.
I think I believe this.
Sunset the word holds more than a photo could.
Since it announces the sun then puts it away.
We went to the poppy preserve
where the poppies were few but generous clumps
of them grew right outside the fence
like a slightly cruel lesson.
I watched your face, just out of reach.
The flowers are diminished by the lens.
The woman tries and tries to make it right
bending her knees, tilting back.
I take a photo of a sunset, with flash.
I who think I have something
to learn from anything learned nothing from the streetlight
that shines obnoxiously into my bedroom.
This is my photo of a tree in bloom.
A thought unfolding
across somebody’s face.
The Congress of the Insomniacs
Mother of God, everyone is invited:
Stargazing Peruvian shepherds,
Old men on sidewalks of New York.
You, too, doll with eyes open
Listening to the rain next to a sleeping child.
A big hotel ballroom with mirrors on every side.
Think about it as you lie in the dark.
Angels on its ornate ceilings,
Naked nymphs in what must be paradise.
There‘s a stage, a lectern,
An usher with a flashlight.
Someone will address this gathering yet
From his bed of nails.
Sleeplessness is like metaphysics.
than this water dropping
through the vine’s twined fingers
my thought stretches a bridge
from yourself to yourself
Look at you
truer than the body you inhabit
fixed at the center of my mind
You were born to live on an island.
Más transparenteque esa gota de aguaentre los dedos de la enredaderami pensamiento tiende un puentede ti misma a ti mismaMíratemás real que el cuerpo que habitasfija en el centro de mi frenteNaciste para vivir en una isla
–Ángela Hernández Núñez
If for the first time I could reclaim the comforting
clarity of my awareness
If my knees could explore the intimacy of the tree
And if, while running, I loosened stones
containing living creatures
If I could say “I”
taking by surprise the universe
that we ignore until the end…
Poem of Your Oblivion
–Aída Cartagena Portalatín
The soul in a mansion of snow,
the garment of words left absence naked
and your name became unnameable,
on the sands of forsaken lips.
Poema de tu olvido
El alma en una mansión de nieve,
el traje de la palabra dejó desnuda la ausencia
y tu nombre era innombrable,
porque había naufragado
en la playa de unos labios desiertos.
For Nothing Tender About It
If as shame is to memory, so too desire,
then is this desire, this cloak of shadows,
that I wrap close around me, that I
refuse to take off?
But the lake looks endless.
And my boat’s increasingly but a slowish swimmer,
across the waves – I’ve known
hurt, I mean; and I have been afraid. Sometimes
the difference between forgetting
to bring along artillery and showing up
on purpose to the war unarmed
is just that: a difference. Sometimes a lost tune,
unreckoned on, unearned, resurfaces anyway. Just because.
Am I not the animal by belief alone I myself make possible?