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Before Morning

ISSUE:  Winter 1978

para Maya

In Spanish you whisper there is no
time left
. In a few hours a staircase
will touch the door of a plane, you will
empty your bag at the gate to show them
you have no gun, we will hold each other.
During the night your friends come
to help you drink wine. This is the last
of it: a bowl of remaining moonlight
spills on a window, the light of a candle
lifts from its wick. Their faces
disappear with the words whispered
into your shoulder: be safe, go
with God, we will see each other again.

You give me a photograph of yourself
as you were, walking toward your husband
with your eyes on the ground, holding
cut flowers. Now you talk
of waking alone in America, your eyes
finding your husband’s
sleeves dangling from an open chest
of drawers, an hour hand, a book
face down on the bed.
You lift the window to let only
a little darkness escape, you ask me
to find your cousin who is thin
and young, alive somewhere in your country.
He gave his land to the peasants, lives
on dried fish, sleeps with a rifle.
You think we would be good for each other,

Mayita, our dresses are soaked
in wine, but you are not drunk enough
to gather your skirts in your hands
and dance while Piaf sings again
and again that she has no regrets.


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