My Father Renews His Vows

We didn’t kneel atop Mt. Coroban

where Lencas would marry before the Serpent

coiled inside the granite.

Our wedding cake was adorned

with canned peach and boysenberry,

and the garden, with exiles.


Alejandra set traps that blew the legs off soldiers,

high into annona trees.

Hassan buckled under the gator clips that fried his nuts.

Santiago, whose father was hogtied and tossed from a helicopter

into the ocean, brought vino.


Let the snitches bag soggy plates.

Let the CIA listen in

from their sweltering van.

Duarte nor D’aubuisson,

the Shah nor Khomeini,

Reagan nor Kennedy could touch your hem.


Lower your cup with mine

on the other side of the century

as the CD player spins its platter of salsa y merengue.


Mayreny, I’ll never know that barefoot girl, mocos

dried across her cheek,

who poured Coke dregs to make a tall glass,

only the way you offer food,

raised our boys

to lick their plates clean.


That could’ve been you

in the class calendar hung in the corridor,

each photo––someone disappeared

into the red exhaust of army trucks.


That could’ve been you                            

embalmed in the developer tray,

your name on a banner

dropped from a bridge over the Lempa,

your name sprayed red on a white wall

spangled in bullet holes,

your name in a song

faint on a shortwave broadcast from the jungle,

your name on a list,

your name, your name,

your name whispered not as I whisper

your name to see if you’re awake.