Canciones Que Cruzan El Atlántico:
An Aztec’s Offering for Killing an Igbo

by ANTONIO LOPEZ

I . The Scientists Can’t Explain Daylight Savings Time On bow-legged rails, I gaze at the kink-haired cosmos, the cryptic fray that unbraids life’s greatest wonders. What is a lunar eclipse but to hide my face behind her afro, freshly lathered in hibiscus. I paw through its oil; pastel our tomorrow on rented ceilings so coco-scented shea can make the sun shudder, and bathe in its golden flair. The mages in lab coats, baffled at their frozen watches, spin the world-still phenomenon as “Daylight Savings,” which in reality, is nothing more than the act of pawning an hour with her. I close the blinds and watch time itself dance on the umbra stylus that is her diamond-glossed lips, which play our recuerdos, crackling in el alma, like the vinyl rancheros que mi abuela clutches with her good hand. Her moonlit legs dangle off a paper-strewn desk. Thighs lap on between mine. I’m her human hammock, rocking to the still winds of the lonely question. “What’s wrong?” echoing in the ebony brush. I take her hand, palm-reading the stitches God made, believing my kisses to be sutures. Wishing my tongue was a Swiflet hot saliva tying silk archways into her callused grooves. Wishing I could unravel my lips and hush a lifeline, (even if threadbare) latido a latitude, across the Himalayan heels of the palms, the creeks sown in sandalwood skin the humid tropics brewing what                     she rudely calls “clammy hands.” —but none of this happens. Instead, she peers over the desk, cranes her neck passed the tower of books blocking chair and bed blocking my view of her in a fetal position, wearing my Supermario pajamas and parachute-shirt, which helps her land the three-year jump from when I loved her, to now. Instead, she slaps the first page of this poem, and cries, “My body is not some metaphor for your mouth to colonize!” II. When Tumblr “Ships” Sink And cries, “Just fuck me and get back to your work. Isn’t that what you really what?!” She paces our nightly precinct to rummage the floor for old necktie-handcuffs and mangled slacks— the foreplay to try make things work. As she shuffles in her coffee-stained slippers, the styrofoam floor regurgitates our sleepless arguments—                     “You don’t fucking care.                     You know how depressed I am?                     I-I tried to k i l l m y s e l f.                     Don’t you get it, I have no. One. Else!” As tears blotch her mascara, I study the Rorschach test under her eyes: the crows feet taloned to day-old makeup. The bow-legged rails I fantasized in these cloud-white pages now distort to half-lain ghosts now distort to her frail featherweight body, dangling over the window of this 3rd floor dorm, and I furiously dig underneath her dangling feet until there’s no earth from which she can fall, until my whispers reach the skin behind her ears,                     IloveyouIloveyouI’msorrysosorrypuedocambiarmivida                     pleasedon’tjumpbutyourmomyou’reanonlydaughter                     weren’tCAPSvisitshelpinghitupprofessorMo- She finally stops, balls her hands to make a gavel made of fist and warns me, at the slip of her t-shirt gown, the pain of truancy.                     “You’re not even here anymore!” That an oncoming storm approaches— a scarlet-screamed madrugada where Tumblr “ships” are stripped of their courting, leaving just the cold calculations of a girlfriend-turned-magistrate to unhook her judicial black bra and exclaim, “Why are we doing this?” III. The Second I Realized my Breath was Smog for Her, was when my excuses rust into a tailpipe whose carbon monoxide plummed a noxious atmosphere. Where I pant, “I’m so-So sor-“ until my voice is drained of its exhaust, and I must resort to kneading an apology in between her bare shoulder-blades. Until my hands rivet acidic canals, and she cries through the pain of touching her; until nuestras carisias stiffen her skin like cheap furniture After an hour is eight and half minutes, and I mistake a heavy sigh for an orgasm. “We’re done.” IV. Interlude (P1): Ode to the Hija We Could’ve Had Over a wrinkled driveway, paved in mortared fantasías, Mi chiquilla crawls in single-file clumsiness. Until her body is cribbed by the front yard’s grass, yellowed from the Mexican obelisks of weekly bounce houses. California drought draws up a tear, as hood-destrians hover ‘round the newfound well-spring. Next to her, I pillow my head in the straw man debates, of neighbors walking their pitbulls, hollering, “Ey rogue, ain’t chu ‘fraid your fam’s not goin’ accept her cuz she half-black?” Con chubby thighs todas rosadas, she lifts the doughy gauntlet, smacks me straight in the belly, and garbles, in half-Spanish, “What is race?” I chuckle how the two women of my life find my chest a sound block for their judgments. No soy un científico, pero con cada teething, I swear I observe Quantum superposition. It is my baby girl’s laughter jouncing through energy levels. A valence shell electron that allows a glance, if you blanket it in baby powder. I then surrender the grass as a toddler’s chalkboard, as she proceeds to deliver the lecture, in full-glottal that Bohr holes in my logic. Later that evening, I tried to sleep off the defeat, but her mother’s icebox feet peeped from flea market cobijas. V Interlude (P2): How to Patent an Infant’s Groundbreaking Findings Grab an envelope. Use her whirling concoction of drool y flema, the one that drips onto my shirt, as the signet to send to CERN. NOTE TO COLLEAUES: Control for her mouth whose pink-fleshed pipette titrates the molarity of my patience. VI At the Gardens, Where I Would’ve Proposed, A golden sari blushes in the afternoon. A rubber-gripped stroller jostles in gravel. Empty, the parents search in frantic, until they hear a high-pitched Tamil tumbling in the hyacinths. Nearby, swarthy men turn a slanted hill into a cancha— Sobre sus playeras, el tricolor se repinta en yonky grasa, cal de tortilla, y cloro de piscinas— gritan, “¡Pásala! ¡Acá! ¡No lo tires!” Con nada de perder, menos las libras. Mientras, comadres chatter field-side, chuckling at their pot-bellied sculptures, once out of stock, playing as if they were young men again. * * * Como si trajeron flores del minisuper, so that when they lightly rap on the door, they hear their fathers make small talk while the sisters huddle inside a room, dresses y pantalones de mezclilla scattered across the bed. Mother’s careful surgical hands holds a flat iron, each streak against their hair palpitates the heart until the shock of seeing neighborhood boys, becoming men in a single vaquero-outfit, at the turn of a bedroom’s doorknob so that by nightfall, over a tipsy banda, they’ll learn how their bodies sigh against one another. * * * At the drawbridge, the blades of lemon-grass stutter against her ankle. Not looking in front, choqué mi macetón against a hanging basket. Inside, its drooping impatiens blush a magenta hue on their white cheeks, reeling from the embarrassment. But stirs from her olive sun-dress, its vine braided alongside her back, grants my executive pardon. Mientras que las huareches que le regalé prickle her feet, I lean against the bridge. The sun’s sequined reflection masks the schools below. I watch her, fiddling with her headwrap. She turns away, and shyly volleys, “What?” I tell her, “You ain’t cute, trying to be play Koi.” Deadpan face steers away the pun’s Japanese victims until I chuckle, “You’re making this harder.” At this cue, a gush of countless browns—                     Daughters of the sari,                     Sons of sombrero,                     kin of the kente—                     pour onto the bridge’s edge. Alms of alumni, bearing gifts of                     cellphones streaming live,                     dollar store balloons,                     half-shaken cider,                     a suspended breath— where time dances on stylus-lips, her mouth as it gapes to say… —a single kneel. VII “…And the Strength of Ten Thousand Moons” Inside a molcajete, I make an ofrenda from her body, still warm, made of:                     Brown sugar                     Cocoa                     Gold I add a few drips of our honeymoon to the oils of her hair, which I once sacrificed to burn that of midnight’s. Mix the lye with my lies: That “I was busy,” that “I didn’t care” to paste onto the wall’s skin. I stare at el muralismo, the war-torn elsewheres I chose to dwell, which ravaged any semblance of a child’s wallpaper. In this pre-frontal asylum, I see her bagged eyes teetering on the windowsill, I look outside the third floor where her body stood, and see: VIII The Daughter of Ala Sus ojos negros create a trail of studs into the sky so as to coax Ala, Odinani’s cruelest seamstress, to weave folds of the past in celestial clockwork. * * * Ala tucks the Moon away in her indigo firmament. And out of my neglect, —the once starchy sábanas, donde tendía lo que no entendía.— fashions a crib where my bride crawls into her pre-natal state: a child born from cosmic collison. From Theia and proto-Earth, primordial bodies so enraptured in their orbital chemistry, that out of their molten chunks, la tierra created a beautiful but barren body. With craters freckling her face, her piercing cries evaporated all remaining saltwater. Losing volatiles fast, —potassium, zinc, and lead — Ala banishes the runaway isotopes to wander eons in the dark stairs of space, and cast shades of light onto the southern crescents. Until I ask her, “Where’d you get this birthmark?” . * * * The depletion ensues. Her body grounds to star-dust and slips into her mother’s waning womb. A heavenly orphan, every night she steals her reflection from the sun. To pour honey-milk on dusky rivers, on border-fenced creeks, on thighs, never to be perched                     over my paper-strewn desk, on the windowsill of Ala’s daughters, who still don’t know they are daughters,                     to water the succulents                     of their curly crowns.

Raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, ANTONIO LOPEZ received a double B.A. in Global Cultural Studies (Literature) and African-American studies from Duke University (Class of 2016). He’s an inaugural John Lewis Fellow, a recipient of Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award, and a finalist for the 2017 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Prize. In 2017, he attended the Yale Writer’s Conference, the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference, as well as awarded the Lucille Clifton Memorial Scholarship to attend the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. His nonfiction has been featured in TeenInk, The Chronicle, PEN/America and his poetry in After Happy Hour Review, Gramma Press, Somos en Escrito, Electica, Hispanecdotes, La Bloga, Acentos Review, Sinking City, What Rough Beast, By&By, Permafrost, Track//Four, and the American Journal of Poetry. He is currently pursuing a Master in Fine Arts (poetry) at Rutgers University-Newark.