For Alexei Born July 29, 1999

         They clothed me in the clothes of death…
         —William Blake

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 a tight-
         rope of earth hooked to a footbridge crossing a stream.
                  Maroon 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
                  as 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.