Bird Sanctuary

Sara Daniele Rivera

     … palabras que nos surgen de algún lado, como pájaros que huyen de nuestro interior, porque algo los ha amenazado.

          — Alejandra Pizarnik

I have a poem in me tonight. Sounding out. Start of contact, wingtips to ribcage. It has nowhere to go but a fountain at the gates of a cemetery in Little Havana. How do I coax it to land there. How do I convince it yes, this is a safe place even though everyone here is dead. How do I get it to go where it needs. Release, release, no, don’t escape back inside me, I may never get you close again. You need to breathe before I die. Your wings are weighed by something wet, blood or birth or refuse. Do you think I expected to give birth yet?

I expected my father to live to meet my children. He expected more — I’m sorry, I’m closing, a cage, I’m making it harder for you. What I want to tell you is that pain moves in two directions. My father who will not meet my children never knew where his own father was buried. It fractured him sometimes, that pain no longer bird, hardly recognizable as word.

But the cemetery where my grandfather is buried is a sanctuary for birds. So I want you to know you can go there, there will be no bone encircling you, that you if not me if not he will see all you could want, seed, sky, other birds, tissue left in trash cans, material for a nest.

Don’t retreat, you’re almost out, you’ve almost pierced, acute and localized. Localizar means I have identified the pain on a larger map. Look for the fountain and I will part like a promise for you. I will be strong enough to open.


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