For Alexei Born July 29, 1999
clothed me in the clothes of death…
Savoring the metallic tincture of the peso
in his mouth, Abuelo marches up a dirt path
clutching a burlap sack: the blue veins
of his wrist dusted with the ruby moss that lengthens along the bark
of the black maples behind the Pemex gas station.
Wheat fields ripple like linen in the wind.
Near a dry canal, a decaying rabbit, its teeth
& brown ears remind Abuelo of his favorite chapters
in a book on how to build a piano,
ivory keys, felt hammers. He enters the yard of the Sanchez widow.
The widow, kneeling in her garden, leaps to her feet
to greet him. One of her hands pinching her chest
as if she could pull her heart out like a handkerchief.
Abuelo buys a satchel of indigo. Boiled with the moss
it brews a deep dye, purple like a plum in shade,
to stain the clothes for his grandchild from the North. As he leaves,
a dog named after the widow’s third husband mounts
a bitch under a water pump. Thickening with salt grass
the path narrows until he’s tiptoeing on
rope of earth hooked to a footbridge crossing a stream.
cornflowers along the stream’s edge,
their drooping blossoms doubled in the water: muscle-colored fish
surfacing. Ants crawl over the lemons in a basket on the porch.
Ants will be his grandchild’s first constellations.
He will stare at them coming out of their hill & say,
Black Snake or Coke Bottle. A fan of light scrapes the darkness
Abuelo opens a bedroom door. His wife sleep
on her side, naked, facing him, her breasts pressed together
as if one were dreaming the other. On a ladder chair,
a couple of shears on a mound of coarse wool.