Emmy Pérez

write to the lights

that twinkle only in your blinking to keep contacts from drying under the canopy
of el paso sky where quails run across a dirt path and fly, momentarily, to hide in
an evergreen while you pass blue and red handprints on a styrofoam paper plate –
a child’s artwork not so tough for the child but an artifact of factual for you. how
easy it was to dip nature into paint and print it. how easy it is to crack open
another one and demand entertainment. how easy to read about the past in
photographs, in soft skin from our 20’s without so much worry set in (though
worry manifested itself always in the belly). poke us and feel all softness, poke us
and feel all nothingness. poke the past and find different versions of our selves.
when studying photographs of children we too easily determine “that is their core
– that expression” – when studying ourselves we lament what used to be, or
herald what is, in comparison.
ciudad juárez, a steady stream of walkers over the river. ciudad juárez, with pink
crosses for too many murdered women. ciudad juárez, with chinese food i never
tasted. ciudad, i could list all that you could do for me as so many others have lit
your red firecrackers before with pockets full of coins and none left for the picket
signs brushed by a child’s hands. kennedy, did you ask your lovers what you
could do for them? did you love marilyn enough to breathe her in mornings after
make-up and perfume – breathe her in between? i want to breathe in the wet dirt
of snake paths and tortoise entrances. i want to breathe in the gulf’s salt water,
that warmth now part of my consciousness. i admit, i’m a sucker for well-placed
line breaks, enjambed desire, changing the subject to prolong it or avoid it. a slant
rhyming couplet at the end of a non-rhyming effort will get me every time. i want
to ration the irrational in earthquake cans, hurricanes. x marks the duct tape spot
where windows won’t break into a zillion crystals. x marks the spot where the
tree trimmer fell the wrong tree then finished off the wounded one hiding behind
the fence. red marks the spot where the possum played dead then died. i never
saw her in waking life, the big rata of telephone wires and acorns. i called you, x,
so many times in writing. sometimes i call you homey when phones tap dance
and breathe like patriots. i never woke up to feel awake or dying. i’ve died to
wake but not with intention or celebration.

Emmy Pérez
write to the lights was previously published in The Weight of Addition: an anthology of Texas Poetry (Mutabilis Press, 2007) and in Achiote Seeds, Spring 2008.