Poetry from NER 43.2 (2022)
So much of this country’s goodness faces
the water. The doorless café. The white faces
of clocks. I keep a sixth-floor room,
notching up lagers with the expats, facing
weak spliffs on the roof. It’s a life. I try to hit
two pages by noon & when I fail, I wash my face
& head to the market, throwing paper where
the noise curdles like milk, where the pinched faces
of the vendors, those uncles hawking fake
Audemars Piguets, look nothing like my face.
To see the seedling as the son of the tree
is unscientific. Once, my mom faced
a small fine for smuggling bougainvillea cuttings.
She wanted her first country’s flowers to face
her new country’s sun & was ready to pay
for it. These are the only times I see her face
in mine, these strange & stubborn currents
she rides. You have the language & the face,
the hostel owner tells me—why not make a life here?
The dollar is good. The women wear the faces
they are born with. He uncaps his beer by mouth.
I dive to the bottom of my thirst before surfacing.
What else is there to say? I am me, a man
named after men. I wear their bravest faces.