and the origami on his shirt
the watch guiding his hand
to pick up toys from the asphalt
and canaries from the balcony
to pick up the shoulders of the men
who brought the mornings
to the neighborhood, who brought greetings and stories
like warm bread
for Mr. Quintana:
they all fell
by the kiosk on the corner.
They bored him to death, my father said.
The angels of the city
have gone off with no peace
and I wasn’t there
to say goodbye
to be outraged with no way out
or to say good morning the morning before the last one, not knowing,
so as not to know, by his side,
nor to scream with pure fright
I wasn’t even there for that
on the corner.
Today you haven’t been to the sea.
You’ve lived seventy years of earth
to offer the rough crack of your fingertips
and that guilt.
Today, as always, fisherman,
you have sat with your back to the dock to feel
the net pass over your brothers,
those chosen to die with the word
hanging from their lips, the sea moving the algae
until they are consumed by the salt.
You accept the corroded white of your bread
as the fair price you must pay for dragging
fish from the cement for your daughters,
and the woman at your side
who, turning her eyes to the chapel,
understands the error:
the remains of tulle on the altar
but there was no tulle for the eyes
there was no tulle for the steps,
what has been stone in spite of the sun
that you bear unshaken on your forehead.
You only wonder why they have forgotten you
since you had written in your crude language
a firm step on the sand.
A firm step.
And so what will remain of you,
if we’ve forgotten even Jesus,
and if the seas are erased from the Earth to become
gray sand that neither falls
Today I want to memorize your sun like a splintered cross
on my forehead, I want to believe in the forgotten language of your people
and in the movement of your hands that you tirelessly repeated to survive
on the scorched concrete;
to thank the eyes that have remained on the salty residue,
awake before the fall of the skin,
to dig up the sandy hide of my head,
to dig up even the stone,
to return with wet moss
under my fingernails.
for Angelo Domenico
Translated by Arthur Dixon