POETRY: Cemetery, by Benjamin Alire Saenz

I walk these grassless grounds
Cracked, withering in weeds. My eyes move
From one monument to the next: a star
For the hour of their births, a cross
For the hour of their deaths. Grave after
Grave, row after crooked row like fields
Of rotting corn.
My eyes fall
On words: Para mi querido hijo, a mother’s
Final letter to her war-dead son. The foreigner
Has found a place, died for a flag that knows only
How to wave adios in English. A broken angel,
Wingless, protects the grave of an infant
Whose name the wind has stolen.
A cloud
Covers the sun. It will not rain. I stand
In this noonday darkness somewhere between
A cross and a star, strip off my clothes, rags
That hide my bones. Bones. Bones fighting to bare
Their blankness to open air. I strip, listen
To the sound of my skin scrape against the earth,
And dance to the music of the only instrument
I ever learned to play: the dirt. The silent,
Too silent, biographer, the earth. The earth.


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