Hot Metal Bridge

Current Issue : Number Twenty-Five

Three poems


[the tongues our legends lose]
At first, narratives were spoken,
on which all others stand. So we begin
again with an offering to ghosts,
with ‘habitus’ and ‘costume.’ We mark
the evolution of legend and the tongues
our legends lose. You ask, “how will we save
the stolen hours when only a particular dwelling,
that of the field, remains?”

We compare ‘spine’ and ‘building,’
trace the intersecting angles from signs
to stairs we can’t descend. We look
for the shadows already here to lengthen.
You say, “it’s more than ‘in proximity,’
more than ‘near to know what here was.’”

We listen to a silence that only refers
to another luminosity, a compass
based on ocean currents, an anchor
to translate ‘direction.’
[to grow into scar]
might mean ‘to grow into scar.’
‘Arms’ never had the chance
to mean ‘cradling’
what was
braced inside you.
‘Arrival’ might only be ‘a fossil
of skin.’
I pretend
it rains here to say ‘home’,
which now means ‘a small procession
of what’s
no longer promised.’

In this place, ‘birds starve
the veiled sun’

might mean ‘a fire
failed to burn here.’

What do we cross
but ‘language given to shield’?
[the exact location of touch]
We cross with only these possessions
and look for something familiar. Yet
there are so many masks, so much
belongs to a separation we can barely
turn towards. Unlike the definitions
we assume, we lose what objects mean.
“In time,” you say, “we belong to what we lose.”
From afar, the exact location of touch
remains undisclosed. You say, “no other skin awaits
our return.” Somewhere, beginnings persist
that were never simply given, never
simply taken. “Maybe this,” you say, “is more than
‘lost cargo,’ more than ‘where light comes to breathe.’”

Craig Santos Perez is a co-founder of Achiote Press and author of from unincorporated territory [hacha] (Tinfish Press, 2008). His poetry, essays, reviews, and translations have appeared in New American Writing, Pleiades, The Denver Quarterly, The Colorado Review, and ZYZZYVA, among others.