I was loved in the adobe flowers. They were the color of her eyes and skin. When I reached out to touch her, my fingers felt the cold mud of birth. When I groped blindly at the walls, thorns grew there, their blood already blessing my home. I was taught among the petals. I was lost in the adobe flowers. They sprouted out of the walls, burst into brown patterns on skin. When I stared at the widening cracks, they spelled the future, rooms that grew into a garden rising out of the earth. I was punished in the adobe flowers, until the petals dried and the house fell. When I emerged from the ruins, the dirt had the scent of roses dropped by someone who quietly stepped away.
After Wallace Stevens
When the light detects a difference, the lone man crosses the road. His mother and father plant flowers, one galaxy at a time falling at their feet. They walk with clouds and the duty of mummified words. If you say, “Let it be,” sunflowers grows closer and the postcard shows a house with closed doors. When the darkness sees the difference, the lone man returns with a pale amphibian tattooed on his chest. His mind was elsewhere when the jar was filled with sand and the mark of time took him to the sea, forgiving him for being afraid. If you ask, “Is this is the mind?” someone will answer, “No” because it is the swan turning its beak, disappearing from your thoughts as you turn the page.
The Second Traveler
I went home to peel potatoes in a kitchen whose floor was swept long ago and I saw drops of milk pour down an old man’s chin. He told me what stays alive is covered in resin. When he rubbed it off, the perfect wooden carving of his mother warded off what anyone could ever say to him. Her arms were extended to those who couldn’t see, her old son offering to carve a mother for me.
A Period of Ashes
You live in a period of ashes and they fall day and night, delicate layers disappearing as they hit the ground, the black earth underneath building in secret
You love in a period of ashes, though the naked bodies are being rained on as they come, black lines painting lust on bare shoulder blades, leaving them in exhausted sleep.
You are lost in a period of ashes, your hair black at birth, though your way through the trees is marked by a light that says if you open your mouth and hold out your tongue, the taste of ash will forgive you.
You emerge from the ashes, lucky they did not fall in your eyes, years of seeing darkened by something that used to be there and left when you blinked with a blackened face, no longer surprised.
-- Ray Gonzalez is the author of numerous books of poetry, including five from BOA Editions– The Heat of Arrivals (1997 PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award), Cabato Sentora (2000 Minnesota Book Award Finalist), The Hawk Temple at Tierra Grande (winner of a 2003 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry) and Consideration of the Guitar: New and Selected Poems (2005). Turtle Pictures (University of Arizona Press, 2000), a mixed-genre text, received the 2001 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry. His poetry has appeared in the 1999, 2000, and 2003 editions of The Best American Poetry (Scribners) and The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses 2000 (Pushcart Press). He is also the author of three collections of essays, The Underground Heart: A Return to a Hidden Landscape (Arizona, 2002), Memory Fever (University of Arizona Press, 1999), and Renaming the Earth: Personal Essays (Arizona, 2008). He is the editor of twelve anthologies, most recently Sudden Fiction Latino: Short Short Stories from the U.S. and Latin America (W.W. Norton). He has served as Poetry Editor of The Bloomsbury Review for thirty years and founded LUNA, a poetry journal, in 1998. He is Full Professor and the Director of the MFA Creative Writing Program at The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.