Juan Parra

You to Save Me in the Land of Make Believe

                                                                                For Mati Parra

I'm teaching you how to cycle, struggling with
Our fleeting bravery and gravity's caprices.
You fall, and I catch you.
You throw tears at your scraped knees
And I comfort us.

And then your legs wake up.
You outwit gravity.
You cycle fast, skillfully, far, far away
From the years of your infancy to a life
Ripe and sweet, I hope.

I'm cradling the infancy you left orphaned.

I yield to the locks of hair I stole from your
Infant kingdom,
Our tired limbs whispering to each other,
Your smile,
The affection in your mother’s pupils,
The concentration camp where I left the boy in me,
The sour stench of toes, suffocating in the cheap plastic sandals my father was forced into buying,
The barbwire scared of my skin color,
The tent where we sank our teeth in God's ribs,
The happy and the ugly saber rattling like bitter enemies, pulled apart by pliers, in the painful limbo of a
Partitioned tooth.

I have you to save me.

To baptize my feet in lavender and honey,
To kiss my forehead when broken by life,
To draft peace treaties,
To jigsaw your mother's image in my mind
Lest we are ever apart

I have you to save me.

From struggling with words,
From this land of make believe where I don't believe in me,
from incantations and stubbornness,
From saints that strangle the hungry mice over moldy slices of bread
The Babalawo priest laid to rest.

I have you to save me.

I have you to show me life's secret button of
Cliches and silliness, those entrails of happiness
That turns us into feathers, against the wind.