What better place for a poet to try to reassemble the jagged memories of a past love than drunk on a busy street in Cancun? This beautifully written piece taps into the timeless themes of both sides of the border.
Brian Hendrickson’s poetry has appeared in numerous print and online journals locally, nationally and internationally, and has recently been nominated for a 2012 Pushcart Prize and a Best of the Net 2011. A PhD student in Rhetoric & Writing at the University of New Mexico, Brian is a Teaching Assistant in the Department of English Language & Literature, Secretary of the National Consortium of Writing Across Communities, and Co-Director of the Albuquerque Community Writing Center.
Turning between Two Skewed Horizons
Avoidance is also dancing—
How recall re-laces the memories
We cringe over with its veering.
The hometowns we refuse.
The lovers who never
Should have mattered,
Whom we step around,
Pacing the floors of nights
That wear our scattered recollections.
The young girls who spurned you
Were only dancing, a vagueness
At which you still shudder in perplexity
Guiding them by their once delicate wrists.
In Cancún, where the busses didn’t run,
Where the sidewalk with its blankets
Of drunks forced you into the streets
To waltz with homicidal taxis,
Like a friend you’ve known too long
To hate, the guilt you felt inside
A dirty strip club in all its black-lit sadness –
When all you could think about
Was its opposite, was her—
Still lives. Those thirteen years you spent apart,
You’d have translated into a language
Of missteps and crushed toes. Then
In the parking lot behind the gringo dancehall
Where you stumbled out to vomit,
A constellation of broken glass
Turning between two skewed horizons.
Now you know why you distrust irony,
Yet you cannot forget the crooked smile
Of the Yucateco you found shimmying
Up the coconut trees planted between
Two frantic lanes of traffic—
Him swatting down the fruit
You chasing after it
Into the strobe of swerving headlights, then together
Cracking the spoils against a concrete park bench.
What are you even doing here?
You could not ask the other
Who spoke no English—you, a worthless Spanish.
And what were you doing there?
Why so long
Before she would love you, before you
Would in turn forgive her?
Might as well ask the Yucateco
If he still remembers how sweet
Coconut milk tasted
To the strange, drunken gringo
Dancing on that busy Cancún street corner
With no idea how to get home.
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