by Michael Dowdy
after Remedios Varo’s Coincidencia (1959)
Passing graves, you were warned:
Hold your breath. If you huff,
the afterlife’s trap door will crack
like a fumbled egg, fate’s embryo
gone gooey on your palm. To stay
destiny, lose your cool, get beside
yourself with fear. Take a stroll,
the two of you, get acquainted,
note the stones and their mortar,
how the afternoon’s waning light
stains the wall, how fog leaves
the trees, fruiting stars, how
a flock of hats — bowler, top,
wideawake, all pale as unripe
blueberries — perch on tombs
like hip buzzards seeking heads.
Know this: one of you will pass
slow as a prized horse, the other
fast as night blanketing the earth.
One of you will carry the cane,
the other a retractable crowbar.
On each of your tongues place
one chiclet and a pine needle:
season your words with the trees.
If you learned to ghost your dead
before calling out their names
like an auctioneer hustling bids
for hours more, you must now
abandon prayer, pry yourselves
from the chasm only one of you
will see, tapping fast as you can
until your double flaps for air.
Michael Dowdy is a poet, critic, essayist, and editor. His books include a collection of poems, Urbilly; a study of Latinx poetry, Broken Souths; and, as coeditor with Claudia Rankine, a critical anthology, Poetics of Social Engagement. He lives in Philadelphia and teaches Latinx literature at Villanova. For details, visit https://michael-dowdy.com.