New York City

Push open the window. Pigeons blend into the stone ledge as their small ruby
hearts fade to charcoal. Delicate as ash, they erode with the wind

and leave the white daisies of their droppings. Stranger birds
have cluttered the city sidewalks, their gray wings crushed

into exotic fabrics too thin for winter. Your socks are yellow cotton,
the bedroom carpet deep. You step out of your footprints easily.

From the mantel your mother weeps for you on the day of your birth.
In every other photograph she mourns for you. Her eyes melt like snow

on the street, always darkening. The Labrador you bathed twenty years ago
snuck into your parents’ room and splashed the television screen.

The pope arrived into the Mexican peninsula to a parade of teary-eyed saints.
Your mother had been making love to a stranger beneath the sheets.

You remember that morning above any other because that’s when both your
mother and your faith began to fade. All things holy came in chalk or plastic after that

and the small god the priest placed in your mouth finally dissolved the night
your mother greeted her last star. When she cried out you confused the sound

with the groan of ecstasy the time you found her with her lover. Twice
you’ve been forced to carry her loneliness until your own demise. Motherless,

you have lived detached from the world long enough. Should you decide to take
flight, you will die by day, divide the sky into what will fall, what will rise.

One stunned passerby will drop a bottle of cranberry juice on the pavement.
You’ll blink, surprised it doesn’t shatter holding in the red lake of its lung.


Rigoberto González has written SoOften the Pitcher Goes to Water until It Breaks, a National Poetry Series selection, Soledad Sigh-Sighs, a children’s book, and Crossing Vines, winner of ForeWord Magazine’s Fiction Book of the Year Award. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and of various international artist residencies, he has four titles forthcoming: Antonio’s Card, a children’s book, Butterfly Boy, a memoir, Other Fugitives and Other Strangers, poetry, and a biography of Chicano writer Tomás Rivera. He writes a monthly Latino book column for the El Paso Times of Texas and is the poetry editor of Swink Magazine.

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