We Are Trying to Make a Country (A Cento)

When it is a tent, we slit its skin to let in the rain.

                        The bronze star points
north but never resolves.

In my country our shamans were women
and our gods multiple.

When I reached down to touch the earth it shied and fled.

I walk to see the quiet that has colonized
everything.

My name a two-hundred-year-old word for Please
My soul keeps trying, trying 

I escape to the same places and same words.
Bodies were dropping from the trees.

Like telegrams, the gathering of crowds—

To have a country, so important,
to run into walls, into streetlights, into loved ones, as one should.

Each an ambition bird.

*

Source texts/lines:

Claire Wahmanholm
Mia Ayumi Malhotra
Claire Wahmanholm
Rick Barot
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Rainer Maria Rilke
Tomas Tranströmer
Claire Wahmanholm

Ilya Kaminsky
Anne Sexton


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