Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Instructions for Living by Erika L. Sánchez

Instructions for Living

It was the way summer hunted me:
a sequence of instructions
in the folds of a flower.
How do I explain the hatred of the sun,
the terrible wonder of being alive?
Fuck the fucking birds. I looked
to the sky to join the storms. I couldn’t
have imagined you, swift as the lightning
I traced with my finger, a song scratched
into a back. I ached with the not-knowing.
On Mother’s Day I knelt and begged
for something to help me. Is that God?
I played “Here Comes the Sun”
in the psych ward and everyone
watched as I shook. This
is not true, I said. The sun
is already here. Hope was slight
as an eyelash. How clean the sky—
a cloud that posed as a spine.
There was no container
for my despair. In your face I saw
a sequence of instructions.
When you touched me, I named
the future: Be here. Stay living.
I was running once. Did I tell you
how I wept like that? I saw a fox—
my life bound into tricks. The past
is the past is the past. An idea grown
in the name of the obvious. How
a beloved becomes a stranger
and a stranger becomes a beloved.
I can hate what is true, the thick beauty
of it. I am always in the school of the dead:
a bracket, an aside, a reordering.
I tell you language is always a failure,
a string waiting to be plucked. A song
you love and cannot resolve.
What’s the difference between
rupture and rapture? Not even salt.

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