When the time is right—which means after
the leaves have begun to sprout into dark budding leaves
and the ocean currents flow more warmly northward
like perfect storms from southern islands
and all my heart-beating, word-hammering work is done—
bury me in these United States in a manner
I see fit amongst my slightly brown, light brown,
and dark brown brothers and sisters on solid ground
as wide as a city and where there’s so many of us
that the powers that be start to quiver and shake
as if the deep mud upon which they stand is collapsing
with the quaking of their great white earth.
Roll away the rubbish of stars and bars
on battle flags, their sentimental dreams of
stepping on our backs and spitting in our faces,
and all our years of working for them rather than for us,
and all the yessirs and thankyousirs that ever passed
our thirsty lips, and every moment
our heads were bowed in prayer or fealty
and allegiance beneath the smooth skin of their hands.
Then rise the way lost land rises high to blue sky,
which bends down with the bursting of clouds
to wet kiss crumbled brick and fallen metal.
Rise with weeds and wild grasses as if waking
from centuries of deep sleep, rise like voices
when questions have been asked and the answer
is a bird with dark feathers perched upon a statue
commemorating the perpetrators of heinous deeds.
And walk these streets, knowing that what’s beyond
every sharp corner, behind every wooden door,
and under every leaky roof is another insane notion
cultivated by the inventors of regret; walk swiftly
as if dancing between bamboo poles while
stringed instruments control the melody;
walk until you reach the smooth curve and low hills
of the highway heading out of town because
this is where I’m from; this is how we wander.
Photograph by Jose Padua