Consuelo Wise - Four Poems
b o y
we go see
shake a torrent we
he’s a girl
I have no hair left
no in me
& the wind is shaking
the baskets in the trees
seeds fall butterflies from the river
all its color
air pressed out
in every town
he heard the ocean
a long ways
could he come
come here now, see
ocean on his
lips in his
so brave his
smelling like rain
on the phone my mom tells me she’s putting rocks in buckets
rocks she collects at the beach & along the smith river, the applegate
all over,—she’s always carrying them
one in each hand, she balances the weight
large river rocks for her garden
or small ones from moonstone or agate beach
I’m collecting for mosaics, I just need to learn how to make them, she says
buckets I imagine, we used for washing, sitting, for gathering fruit, carrying
they’re only partly true—they became
somewhere between the giant iridescent seeds falling in tikal & washing our kid bodies in hawaii & not burying kioma but holding on to his ashes for more than a decade
because we don’t, not in our family—is this true—
we don’t bury ourselves.
everything on the surface for everyone to see, or the facts are, but the rest
the rest is a surface I keep
parts in the hospital on the table
they weren’t parts but that’s how I remember them
the parts become as if separate from the whole
how time or memory separates them—gives them their new name
right ear hand cheek
in the huntington gardens with ursula and caitlin
I gather the pink blossoms of the african tulip tree
c and I reach up and pull the branch down, she’s taller than me, I want the pod
shaped like a boat
my grandmother made a paper boat and slipped a picture of kioma as a three year old
in the boat, it’s on the fridge
every time I’m home I look at it.
and the buckets keep spilling
or their water rests, trembling on the edge
our little you pressing forward,
the moon about to show its face—further and further you are
the pink blossoms press & dry and lose their brightness, but there’s still a tinge of purple
pink and the gold rim of the petals and the tiny hairs
and the pod on my dresser is fuzzy and golden and inside it,
I don’t write for weeks, nothing to say
how do I say I’m tired of holding?
I don’t know how to put this down, how to stop scrubbing, I don’t know how to
my mother, sister, little brother, my father
myall-of-us—how to pour the/wash the/bucket the/ let dry, there’s no space between the
one and the other
surface I’ve been ignoring, there’s no—space, I’m talking to my friend, he’s asking me if I’m experimenting and I don’t know if I am
—have I stopped—
trying, wanting to try new things my
image of you already
my image of me, the same
the form of this between a strand and a wave, a line moving from the edge of the eel river as all of us jump, as all of us—some climbing with their hands in the divots of the cliff,
alejandro at 8 then 12 and 18 & 24 and the days between us since the first backflip and the arms sweeping out
kioma and all the boys taking their leap against all of the almosts of don’t and careful and the heaviness and fires and what aftermath looks like or feels in the air
and how we, just trying to break/to cool/come up
it makes me think of the sheathes of dry grass stacked back to back/of each other
their perfect form. rattle snake grass shaking.
all the blue nights of summer. all the pressures of now eclipsed by the fullness of the night
we lay our backs to
recently, it occurred to me my brothers and I share a love of speed.
mine with listening; house-street-store-remember word used-color-itemshejob-shapeshe-are you
looking for anything in particular, drink, how did that make you feel, new friend, how I feel—must—
keep moving. beholden to—hearing you, languageyou. talk.
—what this has to do with curve in road. adrenaline.
[gravel, night, wind.]
it’s strange to have a brother who’s a racecar driver, seeing as I don’t drive.
my new friend and I on the stoop, between us in the air, a question––then quick skid. how
you land, I react. my sister’s mother—she told me—remember to respond, not react.
react-how-I-survive. grabyou, my quick hold-self-stone-step-tikal—brother. being a sister of
boys means catching. means hold/grab/punch/seize—you love me—? I’ll take you down, stand
behind you, I’ll—pulling & away, what having brothers means.
I ask my friend—does this sound desperate. well, it is—want you back
and want also, be free of—
I drive myself to sickness over you. it feels good.
adrenaline makes alejandro hypervenalate. his copilot tells me she hears his breathing in her
headset. this type of breathing is my one step from breakdown—in the parking lot with my
groceries, laptop-purse-lunch-book-bag, I fall apart. order cab. get there, barely. pull back.
road-break, stop. the way I do things—leave house, cook, clean fridge, laundry, wipe toilet,
run errand, run into. run bus. run friend. run speak, mood. run, apart.
when you died we knew to take you. tikal-your new form.
the buckeyes flip their skirts. hang with twisted roots to the soil. roads dry. gravel. dust on
our faces. riverbeds muck with algae. dogs-sick.
california, my brothers. we wait for you, water.
from the past-dark, from curve in the curved road, guatemala, tikal, from lago de atitlán,
tz’utujil, from boy
we receive news. a letter.
he writes a friend. tells him what he sees. what he eats. who he talks to. boy, run with black
cat. run up steps, temple i, temple of the jaguar.
says you can feel it in your legs. matasano. mata means kill. sano means heal. this fruit will
heal-kill you, one bite. what you do to me, boy. healme with stones. over
my eyes. sleep. cold stone-boy.
my brothers, love of—turn on road in the night. quick skid—flip—break neck-kioma.
alejandro. mexicali, rally. endurance.
I want to get back further—away from this—undo pile of stones. boy. eyes. mata. lake-me.
sano. eat from tree. run where black cat runs. not dead yet-boy.
in the letter, kioma says he’s learning to speak tz’utujil, talk to friend.
bag of dust-boy, carry us.
it’s all very complicated, my friend is saying. we’re talking about talking about race. my eyes
blur. lake, on ledge. courtyards between temples represent lakes represent death. I want to
explain to you, it’s not very complicated. you heal me with words, kill me further. im alive.