When Will We Ache Less

Michelle Peñaloza

from a desert in Nevada  a man launches flowers
into space

just now I thought: why  when you are closer
am I more lonely?

(the you
 could be anyone)

maybe distance is what I equate  with love

you are away and I am  alone with the bullfrogs
and crickets and raccoons
that pull up the new sod like carpet
their child fingers searching for
grubs in moonlight

elsewhere white men chant
you will not replace us

why is being born white
in America not enough?

above me the geese form haphazard
  V    floating over the house
loose victories each twilight
paraded from one sewage pond
to the other across town
they don’t leave the valley for winter


this world and what comes from  our garden is too much

abundance is a burden of responsibility
this rash of tomatoes appears and reappears
with so little effort  with so little to do with me

what is it like to be everywhere
to be seen and heard and known and believed
with so little effort  with so little to do with you


I collect facts

facts are marbles in my mouth
how to hold each one  how to keep
how to speak how to scream with so much to contain

my mouth grows bigger and bigger

butcher birds hold their prey
to dismember  they cacti their knife and larder

26 young Nigerian women
were fished from the Mediterranean and dried as headlines
and disappeared again
bullets shot from an AR-15      move through bodies
like boats  exits wounds the size of oranges

hyenas eat ghosts          that wander the streets
they eat the bones the butchers’ sons and sons and sons
feed them from their hands

someone found a grasshopper  stuck
among van Gogh’s olive trees  trapped 128 years


dragonflies hover over the kiddie pool we soak in     to beat the heat
thrips burnish a thousand holes into a row of bright green leaves
the scuttle of skinks along the fence line     sings feline     a rolodex of r’s

a raccoon just made
carcass splayed across the road
the cattle wires come alive   with feathered gargoyles
spread wings follow each speeding car
    every hour more wings  sky-full  
coast on warm carrion-wind
I could measure the days this way

name after name after name
the raccoon a meat balloon fur crumple


Originally published in Moss: Volume Four.
moss logo