Craig Santos Perez
Home and Death
On my mother’s birthday
It’s amazing how fast they build houses, she said.
As we drove past the skeletal development. Wood
and geometry and iron nails. A big rig hit a motorcycle,
said the voice on the radio, and continued, without pause
to the situation of other highways. We listened
as we entered the toll gate of the bridge.
The traffic, she said, will be backed up for years.
Small birds on telephone wires. The call to the family. Traffic
in its terror flow.
For the Duration
She held the walls because she knew
how a breath opens full-
lotus. An unnamed cordillera
beneath the bronze moon-
gate; silence rendered as passage.
‘Why do they forget the commandment
of things?’ she asks, to unspell
distance. ‘There are wings opening,’
she says, in the dawn
of failed wind. ‘Is this
the temple gate? The vast fields
of pale salt?’ There’s no geometry
to prove the borders of silence; our senses
punctuated because they are
also language, bridged in this place
of consequent arrest. So close, when our eyes
open, she wakes. So close, all
Of A Common Poverty
Her teeth marks on knife
could mean the tongue struggled.
Her teeth marks on wrists
veins resemble wings caught in nets.
Her teeth marks on the guard’s
They severed her arms.
No one hears what she speaks to the fire. If
it listens. Coherent
laws of combustion. Her body as fuel.
‘Water, water,’ she whispers to mimic
Like this. Like this. Like this.
It is important to die in holy places
They sell fruit in the subways,
peaches, green pears and green apples
An old man is playing the cello.
The inbound train turns the corner, emerges,
the music, lost in its arrival.
The old women said the rosary.
Your mom was hysterical, clawing
at memory, at the Lord, at the motorcycle that fell on your body.
You were cremated, ashes released over the loud ocean.
She will be reborn as a fish, I said, to pacify the current.
It has been years since your funeral. It was lovely.
It is gathered in my body like dead fish.