Home // July.20.2017 // Sara Daniele Rivera


The Split

At eleven years old I
followed you down
a path you knew

from your father's
place, over a footbridge,
then ducking

the cholla and nopales
of the cactus field. The
boulders rose,

interlocking, tilting
together like pieces
of an IQ game, the

last elevation
of the mountain.

We climbed to a flat-faced
boulder, a lookout west
over the city

where everything tapered
away. At the far end
of the horizon we could

trace the low blue line
of the Sangre de Cristos.

Between us, another
line, a split

down the center
of the rock.


Year to year the graffiti
changes. Two halves
of the rock become

the halves of a broken
heart. One side says
I love you. Another

time the two
halves say FU CK.

Those were the
splitting days.
The jigsaw of

my body didn't fit.
I'd stand in front
of the mirror pinching

my arms, seeing only
my arms, my arms

like horrible wings from
my body. One arm, a bat.
The other arm, an owl,

lifting away but
closing in as on Goya's
body in sueño.

Reason sleeps
for girls that age.
Monsters don't.


We took a picture straddling
the crack. Ten years later,
the same picture, only more

of our surfaces had been rubbed
away. We wore white and
green dresses, took

each others' forearms
for balance. Broken bottles
gleamed through gravel

shadow, points bright
as new lettering.

We needed to walk
an uneven line away
from our bodies, needed

a place where
Goya's crows could
become illusions,

where they wouldn't insist
on interacting with us
because we have had

our share of crows
and weren't always able
to protect the gaps.


And so, between us,
there are bad days, bad days

we forget but carry
anyway like extra
weight on the body.

But you are also
my footbridge leading to

the other days, when
I remain wholly

myself and the earth rebuilds
itself and what I leave

behind inscribed
is how much I love you and

the dividing lines

I would walk
to be able to say it.



NB: Sueño refers to Francisco Goya’s etching “El sueño de la razón produce monstruos” (1799), Plate No. 43 in the artist’s caprichos series. A scan (cropped) of a 1797 prepatory drawing of this etching is used as the banner graphic on this page; the original, held by the Prado Museum, is in the public domain.

See also: [NERObooks homepage] [tag:poetry] [tag:originals]

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