Issue 137, Winter 1995
The Cubans are vaccinating anything
live they can find and burning the rest.
My childhood pours gasoline over the toppled cows and pigs,
the hooves that hooved through mud and the noses that nosed through swill
crinkle to ashen tinfoil,
and flesh unfolds to eulogy:
breathe in and gag.
If everything solid burns away, then it does.
Communism's under meteorological siege this year,
waves heaping patch-sailed tuna boats on sea walls;
Hurricane Flora keeps renewing herself,
old Havana royal palms
down in the streets, oars lashed to delusion.
The tar-paper shacks have been strip-searched and laid bare by childhood.
Rats and backed-up sewage flood the promenades,
and here in Park Forest—pre-fab, Arcadian, outermost burb of Chicago—
inside and outside the rain that seems eternal,
earfuls come over a hundred Kresge radios
while my mother is thumbing through packages of Burpee seeds,
that happy gallery of heavenly bodies.
Money is free as oil to spill from hand to hand,
earthly sales to be rung up and sacked,
the registers' spooled numbers to run their crazy rotations
till the score between buyer and seller evens
and while a Venezuelan boy-god named Luis Aparicio
in a rained-out prayer in a Comiskey Park dugout
that the league-leading Yankees will choke and die this summer
and while a magic bullet waits to perform
its balletic pirouettes
into the official version
that the truth doesn't exist except in slow motion,
that a president's final benediction
begins all malediction,
my mother who is the squall line of her mother
is dragging her micro burst son in tow behind her,
freely glad to be momently clasped together
in our separate needful kingdoms—
and the Sale goes on.
More and more and more and more rain hovers