He Left Behind News of Disaster
after Bei Dao, “The Host”
Let us have faith in miracles, I say
as the conversation in bed turns to God
again—it always does, and the ways we
believe in God change, the ways we believe
in God change, but are always outlined
against the night. Is the boy out alone
in the night, he wonders. And I squeeze
his hand to say yes and no. I don’t know.
Between knocks on the door and the worries
we wake to, we keep to these questions;
I keep my head propped on barrel chest,
blue light when we wake with hands asleep.
Always hands asleep and it is painful unable
to wake them, as if limbs could dream of
death too, and again the ways we believe
in God change. Wherever we choose to wake.
The Mariner is Gone
Tell me softly of the ghosts and I will let
my own go quickly too. He is already gone.
He will trace the subtle outline of the states with one
goal in mind, and that will be to leave me behind,
like tabs to a song forgotten: erasure comes easy.
Do not worry about him, he has already changed
his name. I have no way of contacting him in the shadows,
like the men he once observed who loom beneath trees.
Turned on my side, I think about how there was once
a pressure in the cabin, how we held the smell of ghosts.
What happens when that smell is gone, dissolved?
He once said, La mer est notre vie, and thought it
meant, so our grave becomes the sea. And I corrected
him, the sea is our life—but really he had it right.
Throughout spring the water is rising and he will be
packing. Only now that I am distant will life
come into fruition for the both of us, how strange
that two buoyant hearts may meet, truly unknowing
the weight that will come to sink them so close to shore.
PATRICIA GUZMAN's work has appeared in The Best American Poetry Blog, Westwind Literary Journal, White Stag, and was a recipient of the May Merrill Miller Award. She earned an MFA in Poetry from The New School, and a BA in English Creative Writing from the University of California, Los Angeles. She lives in New York where she works at the Academy of American Poets.