Sunday Poem


When I go out to my garden
all I desire is a world with the mute on,
but there comes my neighbor, the haughty one, the one
who distinguishes himself by pronouncing words wrong in two languages,
the one who thinks himself too smart to work.
Or when I’m crouched beneath the fig tree, searching
for the darkest, sweetest fig—there suddenly appears
my elderly neighbor,
peering between the coral branches of bougainvillea,
offering me bits of her mind
like appetizers.
And it’s not that she doesn’t please me—
because in truth I love to see her
so full of life at 85,
so clearheaded, her eyes shining like the windows
of a house well cared for, like hers,
the one she bought in 1947,
the one that’s in her own name and not her husband’s.
But what happens is that when I finally leave my work
abandoned inside, on top of my desk,
I desire a wordless world, desire nothing
more than the silent vines of my mind
feeling into dark places—blood-sweet—
like a tongue exploring the hole left by a tooth that’s been extracted.

by Aleida Rodríguez
from The Garden of Exile, 1999