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Testament Scratched into a Water Station Barrel (Translation #11)

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Humane Borders Water Station, 2004, by Delilah Montoya




Far from highways I flicker
gold the whispering
gasoline

if  I pinch her nipples
too hard
no joy for her

no joy for me
so I practice on ticks
press them

just so so they give
but do not burst
beneath

my boots
thistle & puncture vine
a wild horse

asleep on all fours
its shadow still grazing
my lips

black meat
my tongue
black meat

in my backpack
sardine tins
saltines

& a few cough drops
the moon is my library
there’s a glacier

inside a grain of salt
do you understand
I’m sorry

my Albanian
isn’t very good
tremble

if  God forgets you
tremble
if  God

remembers you
out of clay I shape
sparrows

I glaze their bills & claws
I give them names
like gossamer

inglenook lagoon
she bathed
a trumpet

in milk
her tenderness acoustic
& plural

her pupils perched
in all that green
there’s nudity

around the corner
bones cracked
& iridescent

sometimes it rains so hard
even the moon
puts on

a raincoat
zinc razz zinc jazz
I notch my arms

I notch my thighs
five six days
I score

my skin but not
the back of my knees
two ovals

two portraits
my son at ten
his eyes ablaze

my son at one
his eyes shut
once

I dressed him in burlap
once bicycles
& marbles

once I tore rain
out of a parable
to strike down

his thirst
You can read the rest of the PINTURA : PALABRA portfolio in the March 2016 issue of Poetry. All images in this portfolio are courtesy of and with permission from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Humane Borders Water Station by Delilah Montoya, gift of the Gilberto Cárdenas Latino Art Collection © 2004, Delilah Montoya. 
Source: Poetry (March 2016)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of Poetry magazine

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Testament Scratched into a Water Station Barrel (Translation #11)

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