independence day

aaron a. abeyta

for a moment the dead dog
i have named independence day
is a motionless train
in a nameless montana town
a river held at her source
waiting wanting
to continue her run home

the dead dog
tied to the fence
with a bullet in his head
is married to a thousand different metaphors
wanting waiting
to come back to life

at first it does not feel right
that i think of my family
when i look at this dog
independence day
and later think of my friends

the dog is all of them
released by the gradual
turning of the train's wheels
a river tumbling the first rock of spring
in its current

. . .

there is a woman
with a thousand fingerprints on her shoulder
who stands in the darkest corners near the juke box
replaying a-13 a-13 a-13
estoy sentado aqui
no one will ask her to dance
a man at the bar mumbles
that she used to be good with words

"effortlessly como nada on command"
"pues que paso"

i stop listening
make up my own story
name her independence day
and it is 1977
the longest day of the year
she is no longer young
god has sold her a face
which wants and waits
for a man
who still refuses to dance with her

. . .

for Torrez
the dead dog
is arizona
her heat held by a rope
unable to make its way back
into colorado

from the top of the mesa
he calls the san juans
the east coast of his country
the farthest he or
arizona's heat
will ever venture

he seems disappointed
that the mountains are named after a saint
like he wants more
it is easy enough to imagine
what more might be
warmer hands
familiar dust
blood which flows in two directions

he waits
points west
says it again
over there that's my home

. . .

Juan you hammer in the rain
sink set
my left eyed friend
who does not know which is worse
the oregon rain
or the rain suit

you waste no motion
sink set
words like the rhythmic pings
of steel on steel
as you build light
on long straight highways
where the indian grass
is always golden
sink set

the tips of your thumbs
have calloused
this is your most beautiful poem
the way you have worked yourself
toward the light
moving slowly
the word in Spanish
sink set

. . .

for a moment
we have become that dead dog
finally set in motion
as he herds the sheep from the tall grass
of Lobato's field
where our minds
have brought him back to life

. . .

your mother's shadow
is walking through cottonwoods
miles from her body
and she is not the beautiful
woman who talks to you
but real
drinking coffee
with both hands
wanting to talk to you too
words like
how have you been
you have my eyes

you have her eyes
i am convinced

. . .

in some ways
we are all haunted by our mothers
the way they seem impossible to write about

my own mother
in untouchable this way
so i wait for visions of her
tucking in children that are not her own
wanting her to make her way through rooms
lit by 60 watt bulbs
so i can draw her face
from every imaginable light
and find that shadows do not exist
the way they should
in words

my last run at independence
1989 i thought seattle's rain
could wash things away
little things
like wanting to leave
antonito's cracked sidewalks
but as i sat in that motionless train
a thousand miles
between seattle and the town
i was running from
i wanted the train to move south
making its way back across the divide
to flow in a different direction

there was something in the northern water's color
which did not move but wanted to

i missed this dry earth
these last days
when spring cannot decide
and the dust is older than you or i can remember

you being the dog
independence day who i stand over
in the way people stand
when they are afraid to move

someone has tied independence day to a fence
where he sits motionless
waiting and
wanting to move

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©Copyright aaron a. abeyta