The doctor reached inside you for the muffled whimpers
and pulled out a child
with the delicacy
reserved for holding
Everything can cut you, he said.
Your fingers drew circles in the sheets soaked in blood.
So calm. So slow.
The doctor’s house was the kind of green
you need some black to make.
The knocking in your throat
was a thief saying, I’m sorry,
there’s nothing else I can take.
My shadow dragged its leathery feet
away from us.
Everything reflected in the polished doorknob
was upside down and in reverse
as if it never happened.
bloomed at the same time
as the branches.
Perhaps the theft lasted seconds.
Perhaps you could still go back and walk into it,
both hands shaking themselves into a stutter of leaves.
But you’re walking in the opposite direction,
if you see the Buddha coming toward you down the street,
legend says you must kill him.
clustered in a field
not knowing what to do
with their eyes anymore.
with only one chance
to look at the world.
I held the child—
one large knuckle
swollen into a fist,
born at twenty-three
weeks, six days.
For twenty-three weeks and six days,
a man stared at a cinder block wall
for petty theft.
The fourth ring of hell
was written by Dante.
It is possible to see things you know only by name—
you saw the child
once but didn’t know
what to call it.
Outside the doctor’s house the leaves
passed the wind to each other
and all at once
they were one complete shudder.
of only the highest branches,
the ones that see winter
coming before the roots.
Men who could have been my brothers
passing by didn’t need to look at us
to know what it meant to leave that house
Doña Maria said it was the same child
coming back again
and again with that scar
on its right leg and a birthmark
in the shape of La Virgen.
You should know him by now.
We called him back
by a name we didn’t give him.
An act on the body
is only a cure
if it happens
more than once—
otherwise we call it a miracle.
So we knew
you were either cured
Sometimes it isn’t as easy as telling
a color apart from what it wraps
its skin around.
We walked two miles
with our pockets filled with romero leaves
—an egg in each hand—
and approached a beggar rattling
his only song in a can.
You gave him your purse.
You gave him your hair.
You gave him everything.