Think of Maps as a Kind of Afterthought

In those days we thought nothing
of walking to the slaughterhouse 

        and the row of little cantinas
        with their oilcloth-covered tables

then waiting for a meal of rice
and meat sizzled on a grill

        while listening to the music 
        that animals make when they are dying.

We thought nothing of being the animals
ourselves, flayed open on the spit

        of the everyday and still joking,
        still laughing, still grim 

and hungry or needing a smoke or a beer, 
our histories decorated by rose bushes 

        and parks and man-made lakes,
        hand-painted signs with the names

of people who insisted on wearing their boiled  
wool suits and top hats in this tropical country.

        We thought nothing then of the future
        and its crumbling remains, the scars

on mountainsides that marked the veins out of which
they drew copper and silver and gold. Our gums 

        are the dusty color of agate and carnelian,
        our teeth stained with the beautiful darkness

of the soil. We think all the time about the past;
which is to say, now we remember the orchards we

        walked through without registering the conversation
        of ferns, the prophesying of birds of paradise.

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