A Palimpsest


Home was an altar: meaning

plaster statues of saints, laminated 

prayer books, change and crumpled

receipts emptied out of trouser pockets

at the end of each day. Carved idols 

of guava wood guarded the rice bin, 

sacks of potatoes, braids of garlic. 

In summer, river water curled

cold against shale. In winter, 

frost on the fingers; but never enough 

to learn as children do in other lands, 

the price of a ripped tongue 

from kissing the cold 

full on the mouth. 

Around a lagoon ringed by willows, 

horses cantered all day for tourists. 

When we are all done with our short

careers, where do we think we’ll go?

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