After Ghostlines Collective
In your final moments, whom did you think of?
Was this someone waiting for you to return?
I worry I will never find that someone waiting
behind a thick front door of a home we made together.
Was your front door always locked or opened?
Was it left open for you even after you were gone?
If you could say one thing to your father, what would you say?
What’s one lesson you wish you could have taught your child?
I still hope to have a child, so consider this advice.
Dried peach pits litter the ground reminding me of bones.
Are your bones below the soil? Is this why you cling
to the fields snagging on branches like morning fog?
How do you want to be remembered?
If you could write anything on one of these monuments
riddling the orchard, what would you write?
Have you ever pledged allegiance to a flag, any flag?
Have you ever loved a flag like your mother’s arms?
Speaking of your mother’s arms,
what did they smell like when tucked tight below your nose?
Fresh baked loaves or maybe stone?
I want a better simile, but I need you to tell me.
I come to you alone at twilight because I’m always alone,
and I’m afraid. Are you here with me? Do you
stalk the trees? I ask because I don’t want to be afraid.
Do you hate war? Did you ever love war?
Am I totally off, and is War like God,
unknown, all around, a mystery too big to understand?
I wish I could tell you there is no more war,
that your sacrifice has been remembered as a warning,
but I can’t, so let’s talk about letters.
Did you write love letters home with sign offs like
I wait to hold you and Forever yours? I want to believe
in love like some believe in God. Will you help me?
Do you think I’m crazy? Do you think I’m beautiful?
No, really, like would you date me?
Don’t answer that.
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, a first-generation Chicana, is the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016). A former Steinbeck Fellow, Poets & Writers California Writers Exchange winner, and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund grantee, she’s received residencies from Hedgebrook, Ragdale, National Parks Arts Foundation, and Poetry Foundation. Her work is published in The Acentos Review, CALYX, crazyhorse, and American Poetry Review, among others. A dramatization of her poem “Our Lady of the Water Gallons,” directed by Jesús Salvador Treviño, can be viewed at latinopia.com. She is a cofounder of Women Who Submit and a member of Macondo Writers Workshop.