The Pier of La Herradura

When I sleep I see a child

hidden between the legs of a scarred man,


their sunburnt backs breathe cold air,
the child faces me


and the pier’s roof swallows the moon
cut by the clouds behind them.


Sometimes, they’re on the same roof
wearing handkerchiefs


and uniformed men surround them.
I mistake bullet casings


for cormorant beaks diving
till water churns the color of sunsets,


stained barnacles line the pier
and I can’t see who’s facedown


on boats lulled by crimson ripples.
Once, I heard the man —


alive and still on the roof — say
today for you, tomorrow for me.


There’s a village where men train cormorants
to fish: rope-end tied to sterns,


another to necks, so their beaks
won’t swallow the fish they catch.


My father is one of those birds.
He’s the scarred man.

More Poems by Javier Zamora