At the Time of My Birth

I wondered how long I could go on
once the rain had stopped. My nerves

were wedged like wings under a hat.
Corncobs bobbed in boiling water. I kept

a fist in my mouth. I was strident.
The neat house curved like a draining sink.

Hot cars shined outside. Their engines
snapped like a chamois. I never

wanted to leave. The streets were suet-thick.
The hucksters had tinny voices. They had

swollen drums. They had gravel underfoot
and tongues that could peel citrus.

Radios throbbed. The wet hush
of my breath flung itself to mother.

The soft dark skin. The sweet
curl of the arm. The hum.

Oliver de la Paz, "At the Time of My Birth" from Requiem for the Orchard. Copyright © 2010 by Oliver de la Paz.  Reprinted by permission of University of Akron Press.
Source: Requiem for the Orchard (University of Akron Press, 2010)
More Poems by Oliver de la Paz