Cento: Fire & Water

Who cleans the windowpane with her breath and stirs
the fire of the afternoon

scented with gardenias?
I’ve walked carefully through the colors of copper.

No possession accompanies us
when night drifts along streets of the city.
Not all windows open: that is the truth.

Now each of us is
a witness stand:

You should know that human limbs burn
like branches and branches like human limbs.

Who said that my country was green?
It took a long time to cover my body —

little boats grab onto them and row and row


Source texts:
Olga Orozco, “Ballad of Forgotten Places”
Jaime Manrique, “The Sky Over My Mother’s House”
Oscar Gonzalez, “Central America in My Heart”
Francisca Aguirre, “Penelope Unravels”
Amy Lowell, “Solitare”
Sara Borjas, “Lies I Tell”
Ilya Kaminsky, “Town Watches Them Take Alfonso”
Nicole Sealey, “In Defense of ‘Candelabra with Heads’”
Claribel Alegria, “Flowers from the Volcano”
Hafizah Geter, “Testimony”
Victoria Chang, “Dear P.”

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