Once, a village lost its memory.
The people hung two signs to remind themselves of the facts:
“This is Macondo” and “God exists.”
Day and night bled together, moonlit midnight
shone bright as noon, midday sun
looked like midnight under the blue.
They lost but didn’t know they were losing.
They died, but some returned from death
unable to bear the solitude.
They tried—unsuccessfully—to take photographs of God
and proved the world was orange-round
centuries after everyone else knew.
Priests walked across the sky;
strange children appeared on doorsteps
like stray dogs; all were taken in.
The town was a cloth made of
Amaranta’s constant sewing,
cloth seamed crookedly with unwept tears.
Sometimes, a war broke out.
Sometimes a man faced a firing squad
This is the pantheon in my attic’s photographs,
staring unsmilingly into a future
from which their names have been erased.
This is the catalogue of gray names,
facelessly engraved into a plaque
on the wall of St. Stanislaus Church.
I imagine them rising each morning,
men bound for the steel plant, women
to mend socks and iron sheets.
I’m trying to work as they did,
to keep the floors swept, the shelves full of books,
to rejoice in the sewing of shrouds.
I’m trying to pray as they did,
to not be surprised when a child
becomes a feather and floats into the sky,
To let words fly off, yellow butterflies
on wind, never expecting them to return,
but welcoming them when they do.
To dance and fight and study
before I, too, lose both name and face.