Com(m)as


I. (Para mi primo)

his body

lay still

as a comma

forcing you to fully pause

and contemplate

the syntax of our anatomy

how our bones have grown fluent

to pronounce our silencings by punctuating our entire brief lives—including the unmentionables

I remember how his strides resembled the spacings between words,

             soundless yet rhythmic

then, with a stroke presumably from god’s pen

his limbs lost all their verbs and only retained a noun-form

his chest inflated and deflated like open and close parentheses

each breath, bracketed like a side-note

and those monosyllabic blinks that communicated ‘yes’ and ‘no.’

When I hyphenated my hand onto his

I felt the metastasis paralyze my fingers into incommunicado

jumble my ribs into gibberish

and make me come to terms with the period

that became his heart

the next day

while I, just a boy at the time, ashamed to look miniscule

Capitalized my backbone so as to be read like a Man.


                                        II. (Para mi abuela)

                                        you could tell she carried a lot of unanswerables

                                        with her back coiling like a question mark

                                        wrinkles are like lines from journal paper

                                        they come more with age, because we have more

                                        story stored in our skins

                                        and she was a compendium

                                        until one day,

                                        she began speaking in a smaller font

                                        her body moved with more typos

                                        some days, even indentations.

                                        The lexicon of her aching

                                        became staccato ellipses.

                                        Then, she lay still

                                        as a comma

                                        forcing you to pause and contemplate the syntax of our anatomy.

                                        Now she rests archived in the soil

                                        while I, ashamed to look illegible, try to learn to walk

                                        in a correct pronunciation of my newest ancestor

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