Beverly Burch

Country: United States
Language(s): English


On a low sloping hillside in early December—
where? Tennessee? New Jersey?—we lay back
after a long walk. You went on about something,
maybe politics—I’d stopped listening.
We were inside a circle, tall trunks of bare oak, maple,
the sky above us shot through with dark limbs.

Whatever pain your not loving me, I can’t say now,
left behind so long ago. But indigo sky,
fan of naked trees—their shapes cut a pattern
for bleak joy. However alone, I find the imprint
still holding, sky setting off dark branches, trees
arching on the cold canopy of winter.

When You Ask About Your Native Country
for my daughter

First we'll describe Asunción: slow-moving and luminous hot then hotter, the 
sun shining even when it rains. Hibiscus, bougainvillea bloom in alleys, canopies of 
lapachos lines the streets. Butterflies the size of small birds rise & fall among the flowers.
In the Rio Paraguay there are silver fish with teeth like razors. Then we'll praise the 
mestizo beauty of the people & how even the men love children. Clerks and taxi drivers
scooped you up, a waiter danced you in the air: la luna, la luna. We never locked the
door & walked safely after midnight. Everyone speaks Guarani as well as Spanish. Only 
later, we'll reveal how the Guarani are all but gone. Sidewalks are tiled, but by the river
people live in cardboard boxes. Young men in uniforms guard the banks with Uzis.
Strangers stopped us on the street: "Keep the baby in so her skin won't darken." Finally,
the thirty years of Stroessner, who sheltered Mengele, Somoza. We'll introduce Paraguay
by the degrees. Let you love your native country before you fear it.