POETRY: Letter From Santa Cruz by Maura Eichner

Letter From Santa Cruz by Maura Eichner

I do not know the date.
Calendars have no meaning here.
One hundred miles north (or
maybe more) from Santa Cruz
our families live or try to live
(and fail) farming rice.

Five years ago only monkeys
talked and swung in jungle trees.
There is a road, but not
when there is rain. It had been
raining long when Marta died.

Months ago, a doctor passing
through told Marta that she ought
to get to Santa Cruz. Some time, some
time, Marta said, she would.

She was busy at the well when
the growth was big enough
to stop the last thin breath
from edging up her throat.

Sunsets in the tropics go like
that—gold, amber, scarlet—
then the dark.

That night Felipe came, sat
in silence, said the child
must be removed from Marta’s body
otherwise Marta would be too
heavy to rise up to Heaven.

No one argued. What must be done
is always done. Twenty four
hours after her death, Marta
was buried with her child
born as no one living has been
born.

Think of us sometimes. We have
some medicines, and a syringe.
We have a mirror—will it
cloud with breath? We choose
a feather from the breast of some
small bird. Will it stir?

Fires burn holes in darkness
when the living wait upon
the dead.
We push at memories
as at a willful strand of hair.
Somewhere, you are at a desk
trying to splice language to
reality.
And I am here,
my feet wrapped in wet grass,
my hands open to receive
whoever comes.

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