At the end of my life I must stagger back to love,
my body a weight I am sick of carrying,
my pockets filled with intricate maps
and useless strategies.
I ask forgiveness of everyone who loved me
—you have been grievously misled.
I cash my name in, such a useful thing
—let’s hope someone else has more luck with it.
I return the suit I borrowed,
promises I couldn’t mend,
the happiness just one more quarter-inch
within my reach—loose change
still good for a pauper’s meal.
I surrender my history
and all memory, its ammunition.
The nameless claim me. Exiles
offer me a home. Who else sees me
as I truly am, just another vehicle
transporting so much fuel?
I light my anger like a pile of twigs.
I do this in the desert: it scares away
anything that will devour me.
I do this in the city, where the jackhammer
cracks the cranium of the earth, and nothing
can save me. I lose myself
among the restless immigrants,
their bodies still warm
from the lust and gunfire of slums.
Grief is a nation of everyone,
a country without borders.
I roam the avenues of it
out of habit. Summoned to testify
on everyone’s behalf, I’m sticking
to my story. It’s better not to talk
about the wounded, or the moist remains
of the disappeared. But there’s always one
who can tell, in the packed
amplitude of crowds.
We are so many bodies, my friends.
We all move in the same direction.
As though someone had a plan.
From Amigo Warfare, Cherry Grove Collections, 2007. This edition is no longer in print.