Bolero 9

Nomadic hearts know there is no rose
waiting at every door, that often a threshold's
atmosphere can be worth your life.
Even so, memory must have led us here.

After Perote, the old bus gathers its wings
and swings us through the happy
undulations of fog- and cloud-bound hills,
toward Xalapa, with the cross in its name.
I expect a familiar sand, pillowed against
walls gone red and grainy with heat,
and a muezzin's bell
knitting the loose cloth of evening.
But the heart is a fraudulent voice, a wily ear,
and memory can be too staunchly evangelic.
So the bell goes, in the whisper of matins and vespers,
and the constant idiot's rain dresses the walls
pppppppppppppppppppppppp in filmy gray.

I should be grateful that memory has left
an anteroom, where I can stock
the cobbled street that leads me to tortillas
and the nuns' diabolic chiles,
or watch the blue-serged licenciado
parade his cane along the Avenida Zamora.
Perhaps I should reserve another room
for the Pérgola's alambres,
and the surpliced children
(hand in hand through the park to school)
and the violet insistence of late afternoon
with coffee and pan on the terrace.
Looking forward, I see the moment
I will choose to leave this garden,
when, on a cloistered morning in April,
I stand in the post office's tiled vestibule
and unlock the rage that you
ppppppppppppppppppppp will understand
and a nomadic heart will carry away.

From BOLEROS (Princeton Univ. Press, 1991)


Poems by Jay Wright

Bolero 9

Indian Pond

The Albuquerque Graveyard