- How the Voice Outlives the Body: A Conversation with Carmen Maria Machado
- ON RECALIBRATING COLLABORATION
WILLIAM WALKER: BETWEEN HIS ARRIVAL & EXECUTION IN HONDURAS (1860)
but which expanded and flashed like gunpowder in combat
The canopy keeps the light out. The foliage,
this tangle of vines and leaves entwined,
enabling or strangling, I know not which,
might just be the thing to keep my pursuers out.
The birdsong is layered too. Tiny wood wrens,
unseen, sing a silver song sometimes sublime
over the anxious gaggle of parakeets calling out
the incomprehensible news of the forest.
I listen for the jaguar. The sound, they say is
not a roar but more like a vibration
stirring, as if straight from the entrails
of an angry god, and it may lead me to
another kind of battle. I know not where I go,
but that I walk away from open water, away from the sea
and the movement of a stream bubbling or
a river rushing–away from the thrum of
my heartbeat even. But the heat takes me back
to New Orleans, Ellen’s porch where we would sit
after my day at the paper, where I would
try to describe the song of a mockingbird.
“Let me read your lips,” she’d say, “just let me
read your lips.” And I would chirp like a fool
and whatever she found there as she laughed
her prim self open, I will never know. If she were still
on this earth and somehow here beside me, quietly fleeing,
she’d mouth the names of clouds past the tree tops,
cirrus, cirrocumulus, cumulus, (cumulus!),
and cumulonimbus, the progression of shapes
like the blossoming of a flower. She
would not know me now. I look
for an opening into the heart of the jungle
and see a click beetle walk across the forest floor.
The phosphorescent marks on its back
like unwavering eyes staring, leading me
into the darkening maw.
Yaddyra Peralta is a poet whose work has appeared in Ploughshares, Tigertail, Abe’s Penny, Hinchas de Poesia and Eight Miami Poets (Jai Alai Books). She teaches writing and literature at Miami Dade College and in community outreach projects in partnership with Exchange for Change and O, Miami.