When I fall from exhaustion
the same dream comes. I am a child turning
the corner toward home. It is light out but the sun does not shine. It hides
behind a gray canvas of clouds. A familiar crosswalk is to my left
toward a convenience store. I’ve been here many times.
The day is still. Then I hear
from behind me. So many people scream.
A twelve-year-old girl has crossed the street
then she is hit and dragged
by a runaway car. Her face bruised,
arms blasted to bone; then my mother helps her off the street
to the curb. And again, everything is silent;
slowly the Lord’s Prayer ruptures her split lips
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
This town has no need for windows
—it never has. What’s best is on windy days
when the smell of Antilles lilies or petrichor
washes over me like an illusion of a warm summer
day. I lie and hear the donkeys pass. Beyond
the amplitude of my outstretched knees
I imagine a future where clouds fall from the sky
in the shape of sea side olive trees. In the future
all planes will fall uncontrollably from above—
clouds of bloodied body parts and then evaporate
into ash. I am filled with fear. I hear the discordant whip
of a cattail push oxen forward into the failed hushing
waves of grain brushing the horizon; each coarse head
whips, pivots like the loose neck of a dead goose. I am
weightless in thought. My eyes close. I smell a sea rose.
to earth, perennial
bulb of fire, man
eating lion head—bloodied
billow your thistles
in the wind—
shadow blossom, bloom
balloon, paint petals
of flesh as wide as streets, blackened
paint of ashes
from my obliterated body
as smooth as suede painted
on the wings of stone
and cobbled sidewalks of cities.
this body sways,
unfurling in warm wind—
your bulbous body
like millions of petals
in my dying eyes.
Ruben Quesada is the author of Next Extinct Mammal and Exiled from the Throne of Night. He is the publisher of Codex Journal, poetry editor for The Cossack Review, Cobalt Review, and Luna Luna Magazine. He teaches English and creative writing for the performing arts at Eastern Illinois University. Find him on Twitter @rubenquesada.