by Andrés Cerpa
The New Year wanted to bring warmth to winter & dance the dance
of confetti & light. In a Newport ridden voice
she said, Darlin’ & I could taste the end of a year on her lips,
undoing the hours. After the clock struck twelve New York, New York
played like a consolation. The spout of a flask shaken empty.
At her place, with the night in her hair she walked a dream toward the bed.
Little black dress on the floorboards.
Sage in my ghost-cage ribs. Those hours: the dead watches at a pawn-shop
gleaming. When I woke I could see my breath & the morning on our hands.
I wanted to walk away & be lonely,
it’s so much easier to be lonely alone, so much less of a failure.
She woke when I stepped from the bed & refused my excuse,
touched the pivot in my shoulder, said, Stay for awhile,
I have coffee & Advil & I’d like to see your eyes in this light.
I staid, but not for guilt. Not for sex,
but for joy. The sage in her voice.
I was young, but it wasn’t often I felt young again.
We laughed at the table. Then I walked the six miles from the avenues beyond
memory toward home. It was a new year & the shock of a natural mirror –
window-pane, S46, puddle, became less. But when I reached my father’s house
like a broken branch that sets a buck to run,
I stopped – my feet on the welcome mat before the door. When my father opened,
we stood in silence a moment.
It was then that I reached into his chest, past the threshold,
my feet on the welcome mat still.
I felt the shiver pass from my veins to his veins. He looked down,
saw the fear in my blood, that the dopamine would soon fail: the secret I held close
that my body would soon betray. He said, what I’ll say is this:
that each day I have to live with the thought that I’ve passed this betrayal
on with a kiss. I’d rather not wake.
But each day I rise to the mirror & call my body by its proper name:
Saint Judas. But I hold no coins,
& these tremors, & this door cast in a blue gold is not yours to inherit,
then he reached his hand into my chest like a thaw & said, Take notice,
there’s snow in my heart too.
Andrés Cerpa is the author of Elegy with a Bicycle in a Ransacked City, forthcoming from Alice James Books (January 2019). A recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Canto Mundo, his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, Devil's Lake, Gulf Coast, Third Coast, Perigee, Radar Poetry, TriQuarterly, Frontier Poetry, Horsethief, West Branch, and RHINO, which selected his poem, "At the Tree Line" for their 2017 Editors' Prize.