We are trying to make it across the river.
We burn small animals on the deck
with white cloth and incense. Violence
in the name of peace. Our tongues break off
inside each other. Our thousand hearts hung on
low branches. Nothing is working. Our reflection
in the water, a starved devil. All brittle hair
and knobby knees. You tell yourself
you’re doing well.
It’s the same story. You try to leave something
behind, say, Silly mother, I will not need
your painted eggs where I am going,
Or, Foolish bride, I won’t need your
embroidered kerchief on my hero’s journey.”
By the end, their gift is the only thing
that binds us to this world.
When the traveling refuses to end
when it seems impossible that you
will ever arrive, like a cold, permanent fire,
time becomes visible then stops its passage.
You’re here, you cannot leave.
Grasping at blades of smoke
you begin to guess
the name of this new country.