River Ghost

By Sheryl Luna Sheryl Luna
Little Chihuahita shadowed beside Segundo barrio.
A dead German sheperd with a broken neck lies
on the side of the street for days. The stench
of El Paso’s sewage in the air, a Mexican flag hugely
flaps itself above the chain-linked fence
 
topped with razor wire. In the morning blue mountains
smog. South side of the border a man jogs.
The river’s bank green, small trees bob in the wind
like truffle-treats, mirage. Each day thousands cross
the open bridge, both ways,
 
each night they go home to sleep silence. Cars hum
and wait for hours like sleeping cats. A cemented river
half-dried, even the canal drains away. Some say droves
of shadows at night move ghost-like through the dying river.
These people grow invisible, as if air, irrelevant and holy;
 
at night I can hear the whisper of my grandfather,
“all the angels live in Juárez.”
There is an old language broken in my throat.
Some eyes mistake me for shadow. When I speak my voice
a fearful phantom. In spring dust storms come, the sky
 
browns, my visage half-forms beneath the Italian cypress;
and when the day’s moon is full in its silence,
I am afraid of my own darkness.

Sheryl Luna, “River Ghost” from Pity the Drowned Horses. Copyright © 2005 by Sheryl Luna. Reprinted by permission of Sheryl Luna.

Source: Pity the Drowned Horses (University of Notre Dame Press, 2005)

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Poet Sheryl Luna

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

 Sheryl  Luna

Biography

Sheryl Luna was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. She earned her BA at Texas Tech University, an MFA from the University of Texas at El Paso, an MA in English from Texas Woman’s University, and a PhD in Contemporary Literature from the University of North Texas. Poets & Writers Magazine named Luna as one of the “18 Debut Poets who Made their Mark in 2005.”
 
Luna's first collection of poetry, Pity the Drowned Horses (2004), won . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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