Bird of Paradise
The songs of the mariachi in the park
soar over the neighborhood. In the backyard
in the sea air I hear clearly the words
in Spanish which I don’t speak
but I know the song is about a woman
and some man’s heart like any song anywhere
though this one also seems to include
la niña linda and makes me suspect
the world of the mariachis is darker
than this summer night would have us
believing. On any given night along
these streets that lead to the beach
someone sets off firecrackers late
in the quiet. I believe they are members of
some secret club and the man down 4th street
is responsible for last Tuesday. The bang was
crisp and left the air ringing. Tonight
after the trumpets have spit and moaned nearly
two hours I am glad when the train
comes and drowns them in its animal cry.
Later it will come back through my sleep
mourning itself, hurtling north along the coast to
San Francisco. The mariachis are still here,
voices pouring through the open windows
of our rented cottage, making it harder to hear
the murder I’m watching on TV. I started to
watch a show where a mother talked about
the ghost in her child. She knew its name.
Who would believe the things people believe.
It’s a while before I notice the music has left
only the breeze and the neighbor’s wind chimes.
I never see her and he talks on the phone a lot.
On the other side, behind the high fence
the woman keeps calling the tall bird of paradise
a banana tree and it is scary how much
I want to launch myself over the fence and
correct the bitch. Which makes me suspect
my world is much darker than it appears.
Ay ay ay. The moon tonight is in its perigee,
whole and platinum, disfigured by its dark birthmark.
We stood on the front lawn for a good look.
I knew then summer was tucking itself into memory,
leaving us in the air. This was our greatness.
Time would go on without us and we
could not even hold on to each other.
Then a pop like a gunshot from the next street,
loud enough to feel in your breastbone.
Then another. God
bless the assholes of the night
who keep us in the world which finally
grows still, the marine mist softening the houses
erasing the hedge in front of the one that belongs
to the couple with a hundred screaming children
all of whom may have ghosts in them. The murder
I watched was about a woman and a man’s
blackened heart. He dumped her body in the sea.
There is a song in this, una canción
en el mar . We want
to love forever like we want to answer
the long low wail of the train at night
with the hurt in our chest. Come back,
come back, little world. A teen-aged ghost boy rides
his skateboard sideways through the slow mist
into nothingness at the end of the block,
leaving us the séance of this street, its houses
hovering uncertainties, and the silvery
breath of the sea, and the sentience of the quiet
that comes at the end of music. Love
and ask no questions.