After Rita Dove's image
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Testament Scratched into a Water Station Barrel (Partial Translation)

After Rita Dove

Apá, dying is boring. To pass las horas,

I carve

our last name

all over my body.

I try to recall the taste of Pablo’s sweat.

Whiskey, no.

Wet dirt, sí.

I stuff English

into my mouth, spit out chingaderas.

Have it your way.

Home of the Whopper.


for the border. ¡Aguas! The mirror

betrayed us.

It erased your face

from my face.

Gave me mother’s smile, narrow nariz.

Once, I wore

her necklace.

The gold slick,

obscene. God, I was beautiful.

Cada noche,

I sleep

with dead men.

The coyote was the third to die.

Your money

is still in his wallet.

Quien engaña

no gana. Apá, there’s a foto, in my bolsillo,

of a skeleton


in black flames:

Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte.

Patron saint

of smugglers, pick-

pockets, & jotos.

La Flaca. Señora Negra. La Huesuda.


An animal

is prowling

this station. It shimmies with hunger.

It shimmers

with thirst.

To keep it away,

I hurl my memories at it. Your laughter is now


on its fangs.

Your pain

now breathes inside its lungs. Taste

the feeling.

Siempre Coca-Cola.


real choice — I gathered & smashed bottles.

Apá, follow

the glass

snaking from

the barrel to a mesquite to find my body.

Lips blue,

skin thick

with scabs.

Apá, kneel in the shade, peel

the scabs. Touch

our last name.


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