A crow gliding over a ravine was
The sign his eyes were waiting for.
They thought they were ready to cross.

The tumbleweed listening to a cricket
And seeing a line of ants snaking in
Was the figure of his younger sister,
Huddled by him, asking for a campfire.

They made it as far as a roadside store
And held their hands over the electric coils.
When asked if they were going to buy anything,
Their tongues broke off into halves
And fell to the floor like Popsicles.


My father says I was born to translate
What he could only nod to for years.
He also says that God made a mistake
By blurring out his eyes first because
He can hear her asking for a blanket.

She saw a church adorned with hipbones,
Sun-bleached, and beautiful as curved jewelry.
She dreamt of its wide doors, and after dipping
Her finger in His palm, she felt His warmth.

My father says that cactus needles fly
And burn like the memory of lost ones,
Then he tells me I was born to study
The sand trails and notice when footsteps
Drag and turn to knee and handprints.
Those are ones I need to follow, he says.

Juan Delgado, “Gatekeepers” from A Rush of Hands. Copyright © 2003 by Juan Delgado. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.
Source: A Rush of Hands (University of Arizona Press, 2003)
More Poems by Juan Delgado