5. 15. 2024


Camila Valle

a train crosses a border
windows that won’t open
from the inside or
from the outside can’t
outstretch my hand
to touch the passing leaves
7 million afternoon glows
I press my palms
to the glass
the leaves were made
for everyone but we
sit boxed in
tumbling through land
stolen cleared
tracks laid by human
hands and sweat snaking
one after the other
when I lie down
at the park sun in my face
I think
only rich people were allowed to
do this for like hundreds of years
but not for most of human
history isn’t that wild
floating over the ocean
we must answer to a man
in a vest with a gun
a tiny plastic box with my face
stamped on it
I am the box little and green
rumbling listening
to a saxophone or a clarinet
I am sorry
for closing my eyes and
not being able to make
out its shape carved out
of trees I will never see
another instrument assembled
by human hands and wind
a melodic expanse growing
the car sways
from side to side I half-expect
to graze a wall
of rock on our way and burst
like the universe did
on the staircase in 1971
my mother as a child
mistakes a condom for fallen
candy and dismayed turns
it over to her grandmother
all the doors closed all
the lights turned on
ceiling radiance
after ceiling radiance
seeping out from the bedroom
the sun
sets the trees orange
in an empty subway car
I watch it glide
behind a building free
on the boardwalk the sky
is pink and salty
a man plays a violin
an older couple slow dances
a puerto rican flag waves
sometimes coney island
is the most magical place
on earth
I share a birthday
with the wonder wheel
and agnès varda
and memorial day until 1971
two years before the united states
ended conscription and
henry kissinger who
somehow is not dead
won the nobel peace prize
for napalming vietnam
more than 7 million neon clouds
they almost look like trees
sprouting deadly in laos
nearly one ton
for every person and
we are still
waiting for a rebirth
of wonder by the waves
I cradle
the sounds like sets of parentheses
on the first valentine’s day
I spend alone
a man swaying crooning
to marvin gaye’s I want you
on the subway platform
and I felt that
(it’s too bad it’s just too sad)
I am sure there is a saxophone on that
cover ernie barnes painted
in 1971
I buy a man
I don’t know
a sandwich and a blanket
he drapes over himself
soft black wings and says
I love you in so many ways
right now I hope
you have 7 million babies
7 million babies with names
like hope and luz
I would sip mate
and bounce them on my lap
years would pass
and one day
they would be 13 or 14
and cry
because jim morrison
died in a bathtub in paris
on a july morning in 1971
and agnès varda
was one of five people
at his funeral
they would board a train
crossing borders
real and imagined
with their 7 million dreams
and reach
for the light

written before the death of Henry Kissinger in November 2023

Camila Valle is a writer, editor, translator, and abortion acompañante and educator. Her work has appeared in Interview’68 to ’05Science for the PeopleIn The Mood Magazine, and Spectre Journal, among other publications. Her translation of Set Fear on Fire: The Feminist Call that Set the Americas Ablaze by the Chilean feminist performance collective LASTESIS is out from Verso Books.