With a broken-down oven, in a hotel kitchen, on an uninhabited island
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Rolls softly to a climb
from our mouths. Then, we pick
our clothing from the floor
of our hotel room, and we hurry
homeward from our one night stand,
as haze smolders at our burning headlights.
I sense how she wanted to fuck me
and not love me, and sense the word love
my own jagged rooftops of a city
in a dream. I have become a traveler
from woman to woman,
my flesh becoming a runny sore.
Weary of the nightclub district
I wander the outskirts of town
for the one I have not found;
among the scents of beans and chilis,
voices from porch screen doors,
among the men who wear heavy working clothes
she hurries along on her business.
I snip a flower that has grown on a fence
and walk along garage and grocery store fronts,
pass Martina’s cafe where a glass
and plate and magazine have been left
on the table and I wonder if it might
have been her that I search for.
Every sign I take to mean she has been here
and left, as if a voice played on small things,
or extended round buildings
her animal purr, silenced at my approach
and again stirs at my leaving, as if my steps
were those of a jaguar and she a female jaguar.
She gives light and burns off emotion
wherever I go, half her turns known
while another half is an unknown secret in the night.
This flowing ache of love in me.
Say my pain is like a watercolor
of sands, tides and a lone bird unfolding
its wings in a great empty space. Say
on sands she has come, covering her footsteps
never to return. She sits, arms hugging
her folded knees on the deserted beach.
Say the deep breath of waves explain the pain
of living without her, and recede
having lost another shell, waves dying
over pebbles of my words, and for a second
illuminate my existence in the flicker
of light on the stones she gazes on.
So close, and yet we do not find each other.
There is no message
in those bottles you drain,
nor pity, with your head in hands
as you weep at the kitchen table.
And it does no good
to scream into the telephone.
No one can take sides
for no one has abandoned you
but your own childhood dream of love
that has been torn from you.
From that wound will come
millions of evenings
bringing no one
but the ocean of your own silence,
you’ll call for someone,
Until something changes in you,
and your love becomes
an out doors holler
between two palms,
that builds upon itself
off the vast loneliness an expanse
between you and other people,
and like mountainous music
one day you will speak
to someone tuned as you have been tuned,
and in both your voices will sing
of two lost on separate cliffs,
an eagle and its nest.
I have unloosened the knot holding me to my end
and now fall to the rough body and ruins of a new beginning.
To the world I am a guest visiting a house
and leave behind my name that they may study it
like the fossil of a footstep of something dead.
I rise, shattering the meaning,
and walk out to the other side of myself,
to the darkness, to the me others do not know.
You must be ready for a long walk, for I take you with me.
You will walk the crooked path I am
and learn who I am like a barefooted traveler in the dark
learns the rocks on a road. To reach the other side of me
you will pass the blinding bottoms of dreams.
Though I do not know the way in the dark,
come with me down the dark hill of myself.
You will know me in this life
like a window of a neighbor in the night
one uses as a marker when traveling in the dark,
when you have stayed out too late
and find yourself all alone, I will be there.
Jimmy Santiago Baca