New Stories for August 19, 2019
Partnered with Tacoma Reads and Writes
When first they raised Patina in Green
She towered, impassive, above the black waters
And although we knew not why they shivered and shook
The faraway monsters feared as she peered east.
“Behold this, our might,” cried the forefathers fiercely
“Behold this, the one we have raised from the depths
She of the Sea-Washed
Our Mother of Exiles.”
My Grandmother spits.
“What might do they have,
These wool-headed men?
What right do they have,
To speak of the Sea-Washed?
When we washed ourselves here, in these
The black waters
When She in the Green was not even a thought.”
And she sits in her fury.
When first she brought forth her Tablet in Sage
Patina in Green carved her symbols in stone
A story of times long before she had risen
That she would not speak for the weak and the wretched.
“Behold this, our Queen,” cried the forefathers fiercely
“Behold this, the one that would stand at the gate
She of the Yearning
Our Mother of Masses.”
My Grandfather sighs.
“What choice did we have,
Among faraway monsters?
What voice did we have,
Among all of the Yearning?
When earning a place beyond She in the Green
Cost only the ship fare and all that we knew?”
And he cries in the old tongue.
Dark river, what therefore must I do?
When the weight of heart & flesh,
lays pale & unmovable. Strung forward by your current
like leafs nearest a stream
kiss then all our memories, goodnight?
When bed meant her collarbone
on a midnight ride
our destination I can’t remember.
Only, the rhythmic punctuation of lamplight dye
Only . . .
in tunnel darkness, she wisped, “Mijo?”
the word warm with her breath
tapping the bend of my neck
I gave no response, a flutterlash of closedlids . . .
Still you spoke,
your heart to mine, beating through your breast
. . . “Noches, mi amor.” The meaning I did not know but felt.
What were those sweet words in the womb?
17 crosses on the river & he cuts the engine to show us the first one
proud fisherman-turned-tour guide
who earlier this morning hoisted a rope,
slick & wet, from the water
one end tied to the platform
the other to a net
swollen with oysters.
The moon was still out & the boat tilted as everyone leaned over its side,
port. please, teach me, I hear myself say
Silvio’s words return to me like waves,
lapping against the edges of my third eye.
“Say it as if there is no obligation.”
“Schto mutu grata,”
Silvio, I fall in love with men like you.
But this morning, under this moon on this water,
(which admittedly is all water & all moons)
I count cruceiros, Rio Ulla, no time for love.
My father and I went out on the boat
To scatter her ashes where we set the crab pots
So that when the rest of the family asks
Where we scattered her ashes, we can say
That we scattered them where we set the crab pots
And they will know.
A lot of the ashes blew into my hair.
The pieces clung to my hair like a field of white crosses.
My grandfather could do pullups with his fingertips.
He gave me stitches when I was a child. I do not even remember
We set the crab pots where my grandfather did.
He would yell at my father how my father yells at me,
To pull faster, count faster. I got pinched by one of the crabs
And still kept counting. I counted until my fingernail fell off.