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No. 13, for Remembering

By Naomi Ayala

Two blocks away
where yellow cabs
zip by without stopping
and the prostitute with the skinny legs
asks for a cigarette
from under her giant,
black umbrella,

in the corner's rain
where some children
are dangerous,
can tell our future
and bet on broken love
between the dreams,

I don't know where my hands begin
and my heart ends.

Oak trees line the sidewalk,
small birds carry spring twigs
above fast-food waste,
and the bold races of rats,
like ghosts of a lost memory,
point to the day of the week.

I don't know where the face of change
is not my own face.

A cold wind picks up.
A man abandons himself
to a tambourine and harmonica--
not praising, not denouncing,
only leaving this place with this sound.

I don't know where we will
end up and begin

but I want to note
that we have been here,
that we too were invisible
and we too were seen.

Added: Monday, July 14, 2014  /  From "Calling Home: Praise Songs and Incantations" (Bilingual Review Press, 2013). Used with permission.
Naomi Ayala
Photo by: Janette Bradley Smith

Naomi Ayala is the author of This Side of Early and Wild Animals on the Moon. She teaches at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD and the Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMASS-Boston and serves on the Board of Directors of DC Advocates for the Arts.Ayala was a featured poet at the 2008 at Split This Rock Poetry Festival and appeared on the panel “Women & War/Women & Peace: International Voices” and read as part of the Beltway Poetry Quarterly celebration at Split This Rock 2010.

Other poems by this author