Who is without debt? Who is without
a raft or gondola of burdens?
—Luisa A. Igloria, “Arguments with destiny: 16

So many dubious ways to unstitch
our souls from our skins:
the surgeon’s knife,
the chemicals that conceal,
the unknown lover,
the arrow or the bullet.

Who does not dream
of a raft, a river, a way to slip
away from the slave territories
of destiny carved out of flesh.

Schooled by ancient medievalists,
we know we cannot shed
our identities as easily as slipping
off a pair of shoes that pinch.

But we are not ascetics who flog
away, bringing a regime of discipline
to our days. We see no need
to sacrifice pleasures as we pursue
our purifications.

The answers can be found in the box
of buttons clipped before the clothing
found its final consignment in the collage
of the quilts in the cedar chest.

Touch the fabrics and imagine the dress
worn by your great grandmother’s spinster
aunt, the work shirt softened
by sun and sweat and soap. Sift
the buttons with your fingers, buttons saved
for an unknown future.

Make your own time capsule, the map
from the past that will show the way
to the future. Lash
the essentials to your raft.
Exit the river where you will.

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