Testament Scratched into a Water Station Barrel
In the desert, the moon
shivers. Tonight, to stay awake, I’ll cut my feet
Outside Oaxaca, in a clinic, my mother said,
“I hate your Indian face.”
In the dream I’m running. My limbs skeletal
After my mother’s death, I found, in a box,
her wedding dress.
As I lifted the lid, a stench corkscrewed
into my nostrils:
the dress had curdled like milk. During the day
I gather tinder.
Paper. Shed snakeskin. When the last light
above the mountains
knots into stars, I crouch under mesquite,
make a fire.
Sometimes the moon stops shivering. Sometimes
I tally what I owe.
In the dream I’m running through a hallway.
The floor uneven.
The walls green. Last month, as my son blew out
on his cake, I noticed, for the first time,
the hideous shape
of his nose. Tonight I’ll pinch my thighs to stay
awake. My mother,
in the clinic, said, “The rain has a fever, it
of rest, it needs to drink plenty of water.” The doctor
scribbled in a file
then asked for more money. If my mother
could see me now!
My feet bloody. My face darker than ever.
Tonight, to stay awake,
I’ll sit close to the fire. In the dream I stumble,
but I never let go
of my right breast: an urn heavy with my own
ashes, an urn
I’m lugging God-knows-where.
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