Requiem for the Firstborn
Before the sandstorm in the bell tower, 
but after the child covers her ears to make the silence 
louder, you will find my story in the book of fires. 
 
Here, where all love ends, in a house 
that is no longer a house, where I found the devil 
on the stairs. I put my head in his lap and cried, 
 
Deceive me, O ruined angel. Once, I had to choose 
between an honest widow and a lying orphan, 
and I chose the coyote nailed to the fence.  
 
Once, I thought the wound was a mouth, 
so I kissed it. And the devil said, Why are you afraid? 
A good fear is useful if you find a changeling 
 
left out in the wilderness to die.  I tried to touch his face, 
but he had no face, so I kissed his eyes 
where there were no eyes, only burnt skin.  
 
The devil said, There’s no use lying to the dead. 
They have no more need for beauty. But I need. I lie. 
I mean everything I never say. Sometimes I confuse my fears
 
with the names of my children. Sometimes the name I cry
into the darkness is my own. With the garden on my left 
and the singing bones to my right, where can I go? 
 
If the lamb tugs milk from its mother’s body, then 
I can take my hand out of the lion’s mouth.
If night forgives the sun its eagerness, 
 
then I can burn down the sugar cane, I can take down 
the plantation brick by burning brick, I can fill in 
the dry well where I hear a child crying.
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