When I was a kid I believed
in good old-fashioned animistic
souls coming out of the grass
and the sky and the rocks.
I loved walking
in Las Rocas de Santo Domingo
and seeing the faces and fat
asses of the cliff rocks.
They looked like big sulking stone
spirit babies all curled up and refusing
to budge, no matter how much
the ocean spat at them.
I'd talk to the gods by digging
holes and screaming into them
whatever thoughts were on my mind.
Then I'd bury all my yelling
and hope it would reach whatever
spirits roamed below.
I thought maybe the caterpillars
or the ants had something to do
with carrying the messages.
I grew up more or less segregated
To me the interesting place
was the kitchen, with the old
women, cutting and scurrying
and doing what I was told.
That's where all stories
came from, out of the mouths
of these women I loved,
with their swinging baskets
full from the market, chopping
boards worn out, the mortar
and pestle made of wood
used only for garlic, the other
made of stone, used for spices
and the charred spot
on the blue Formica counter.
That place had its own
sort of grim energy.
Grim because the women had their own
kind of rage, and when it got bottled up
too much it turned into something
dark and strange and dull and frightening.
When I worked as a night janitor at the abortion
clinic I felt so puzzled and out of
sync with my surroundings. There was
something alien about it; I wanted
to know who worked there.
I went through everyone's agendas,
looked at the clothes catalogues in the
lunchroom, appointment bookings, photos
of wives and husbands and babies.
(How strange was that? Baby pictures
on an abortionist's desk!)
I wanted a sense of the human
Senses and traits attached to this
(Now I look for these things everywhere.)
I still remember
how much I loved
I knew how to read.
I loved drawing out
of the alphabet.
They were all
their own kind
of monster with
their own kind of tongue.
The numeral '2' scared me.
I always imagined
a cross between a
swan and a bullfrog
with a poisonous whip
of a tongue that could reach
in through bedroom windows
to kill while you slept.