End Zone, Flight—Marieken Cochius
JUBILADOS, BUT NOT JUBILANT
In Refugio, no refuge, in Esperanza, small hope—
just the dawn gong-gonging of San Antonio bells,
doves murmuring from jacaranda above street dogs
in ribby scavenge. It hurts not to pet, ignorant
as to whether my northern fondle will invite
only a bite. Inside, my not-yet-dead-father’s
death mask grimaces from a wall, diminished
as he is, shrunken like Antonin Artaud’s,
presiding post-rattle, eye sockets locking
down genius, from a hook in DF.
Each day, mother rasps open the gate
to exactly one crumpled chip-bag she kicks
down the block, crackling imprecations
on what she sees as a message to la gringa
rather than the endpoint of hunger
along the same child’s route home.
I learn to hide it in my pockets before
she protests, another of my apologies
for el Norte, like stepping from the curb
to yield the right of way to the old and young,
both of whom avoid eye contact, my eyes
cocked to cobbles, to potholes, to shit-piles
mortaring the stoops, theirs on the far horizon
of battered dignity. I inhale fumes and ochre,
maize-bronze against blue while the Parroquia lifts
rose meringue amidst hawked sombreros.
Try as I might, I never blend in. Always
addressed in English, always overtaxed—
added or subtracted in a triangulation
of allegiance by whoever’s argument
threatens to crack. Easing, the sun dips
behind the horizon. Stucco cools.
Soon come decisions—what to do
with the remains. I’ll be rewarded
for every loss from the annotated lists.
Until then, I rattle keys like a jailor,
impervious to ruin, distracted by an egret
and the urge to walk backward.