One morning
they dig up the sidewalk and leave.
No sign of the truck,
only the large,
dark shadow digging and digging,
piling up sludge with a hand shovel
beside the only tree.
Two o’clock I come by
and he’s slumbering in the grass beside rat holes.
Three and he’s stretched across a jagged stonewall,
folded hands tucked beneath one ear—
a beautiful young boy smiling,
not the heavy, large shadow who can’t breathe.
Four-thirty and the August heat
takes one down here.
He’s pulled up an elbow joint
some three feet round.
At seven I head home for the night,
pass the fresh gravel mound,
a soft footprint near the manhole
like the “x” abuelo would place beside his name
all the years he couldn’t write.

Naomi Ayala, “Hole” from This Side of Early. Copyright © 2008 by Naomi Ayala. Reprinted by permission of Curbstone Press.
Source: This Side of Early (Curbstone Press, 2008)