Volume 24, Number 2


We wake up with leaves in our hair. Every morning
the caravan shudders under the inkwell of the sun,
dripping with light, the treble of holy wars still hot
in the engine. A broken coronet of fig and olive trees
presses against a small body. We shove backwards
through an imperium, untouched by birthright

in a favela under the sleepy arc of Easter Day,
among the clean wards of Vienna, in a bathroom stall in a Tijuana
gas station, but always on the dewy breast of a young mother.
God, you loom over us like a universal Case Manager.
We must surely be Americans by now, or at least Mexicans,
or perhaps even a carmine shrub in Indian Country.

Would you let us vote for your successor now? Would you
believe that a butterfly flew through the inky rain of the pampas
when our first cry cracked like a gun and gin welled
in the ruined sheets? That we came to New York City
of our own free will? In the dark soil of our mother’s breast
flits a black wonder that early in the morning

brings us to implore a certain court clerk, who blares our names
indolently, as a shepherd would when calling for his calf.

—Elvira Basevich