In this country, where the day will never tell you
how hot it will be, I’m walking on a dirt road, drenched
in my last name. The sweat not yet dripping from my eyelashes,
I had wandered so long I could taste the reason God
made water. Above me, a tree stump lonely as a leg lost to a storm
from another country. Sometimes, my tongue is a country
unto itself. Its people are small but draped in sanctimony. Its rivers
run quicker than the space in between two well-wrapped goodbyes
on a sidewalk. You reaching for your suitcase as if you know
I’ll take it from you. You’re right. America taught me to be nervous
but I still don’t know how. And although it is everywhere it is only now
coming to the mouth of the boy, bent under the hour, asking
his teacher for the words sugarcane, money, and sunrise.
Oh how I love the politics of the tongue.
If our speech was music, I’d scrape a stick against a sandy
rock so you’d hear politics. Water would be a nun rustling the leaves in her pink
robes, plucking jasmine petals. I’ve never regretted tenderness.
Not the flag keeping vigil on the shoreline nor the wound disappearing beneath it.
Even a man spitting out the bones of a fish can fall into a river.
In this country, where everything is wet, the rain doesn’t know what to call me.
Somewhere, this is exile. This country—where everything is ours
and I’m lost in it.