R.A. Villanueva: Confluences

Because you will not talk
about your mother’s hands

or describe further the meat
of her left thumb almost gone

as if eaten down to the bone,
and because it is too early yet

to imagine your mother’s breast
brushed with prep gauze, held

in some nameless palm,
an attendant knuckle There

to mark just above her nipple, we run
along the piers, coughing

at the near-spectacle of Edgewater,
its lights adrift in the river

between here and New Jersey.
If only we could say something

about the beauty afforded to us
by distance and the prospect of loss

instead of spitting at pigeons
and kicking at wastebins. If only

there was something else but pictures
in my skull—these images of antibodies

and magnets in solution, a doctor’s vow
to take arms in the half-life

of whatever we have to finish it off.
When you gesture at a trash barge,

the seagulls in their furious circles, I see
a convocation above the heaps,

white cells gathering at the tips
of all her cooled syringes.



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