Gate Keeping

Zion’s roads are in mourning, empty of festival pilgrims; all her gates are deserted.
Lamentations 1:4


January. Upstate New York.
The dead wait in limbo
until March when the snow
has melted and earth
can open once again.
Lauren says
you feel sharp a second time—
it is you who breaks open.


After Shirley dies
I sift through her belongings
find that purple kaleidoscope
every sequin shining in the light.
This is how we honor the dead—
rooting through drawers of costume jewelry
and hidden dollar bills.


In Panama City
Viejo is already giving his things away,
taking art from the walls,
pressing it into your closed hands.
Tómalo…ya hay mucho aquí
as if the thick tongue of God
whispers in his ears.


In room 3109 I find Selna frozen. 
Her eyes stare silently at the ceiling.
Remy and I watch the news, 
talk about her as if she weren’t in the room.
We thought she would die three months ago.
We wandered in to pray psalms, 
make peace with the angels standing at the gate.
And now we wonder — 
how long can a person go on living
without being alive?

V.  A year with no music.
One day it will come to this.

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