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A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet (University of Georgia, 1993)

A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet cover

Co-Winner of the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award. Published by the University of Georgia Press (1993) and re-issued in Some Things Words Can Do (1998)

From A History of Small Life on a Windy Planet

The Border

Hasta luego and over you go and it's not
serapes, the big sombreros, not even coyotes,
rivers and hills, though that's more like it, towers
with guards, Stop! or we shoot and they do but you don't
need a border for that, a fence will do, a black
boy stuck to its wire like a leaf, a happy gun
in the thick pink hand that wags from the sleeve, even
a street, the other side, a door, a skin, give
me a hand, and she gives him a hand, she gives him both
her hands, the bones of her back are cracking, the string
has snapped, she's falling, she's pleated paper, paper
is spreading and there you are again, over
the edge, you open your hands and what have you got
but confetti and what can you do with confetti, our
side won, a celebration, shaken hands, it matters
now, whatever it is, but how close
you are, your street, the fence behind your house
is the zero border where minus begins, roots
turn branches, cellar is house, you close your busy
mouth to speak, an anti-lamp darkens
the day, and you love that street, its crazy traffic,
you climb that fence, you wave across, there's a rock
in your hand but it's not your fault, you like to travel,
the colorful people, but what if you fell, your house,
your children, the work that gets you up in the morning,
the language gone, the grammar, the rules, the family
talent, those searching eyes, but think of the absence
of eye, a higher tower, a little more wire—
Border? You crossed the border hours ago.

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