The Armadillo

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Aldo Hernandez

 

Me and the armadillo, we ransack this hammock-forest
dashing up saw-cut palmettos cutting ankles exposed
but our ankles, they know: we no longer need skin
because there is a river ahead. A lake.
The armadillo was never baptized, but damn
can he swim; firecracker like candy that is a homeless man’s guitar
that is a poem about America. The armadillo
has nearly seen it all. But
what of this vacation that never ends? Is never paid
for? The armadillo has an answer for that
but I lost it in the line break, the indecision:
O’ we are always caught between mother’s history and her sex.
The armadillo eats this swamp, this flat-boggy-water-world
that goes only down, never back. The tallest hill here is a pile
of trash, of humanity and our flat tires. The armadillo knows everyone
here. We rarely go out to parties. A broken beer bottle
with kids around, picking up pieces chanting
father, mother. That is our Friday and you don’t get to live here
if you’ve never seen a summer suffocate into black
this early. The black comes so
early tonight. But we won’t let it hang us up.
The armadillo: hear that dog barking? Or is it a piece of gold?
Do not be afraid—my little armored one, my turtle
rabbit. Your backbone becomes a gauntlet that is a guarantee
that is a poem that learns
how to swim. Chlorine makes up a good portion
of all American children; it glows in their faces.
Down here, that western sky is about done, resolving itself to another
failed experiment. This land
O’, it is a constitution, a promise someone else made. The old man
told us to spend more time in graveyards and I will
not I will spend more time with the armadillo
because he shows me there is such a thing as un-sad
even after I make up all the negatives I know
there is one thing that is truly there
and my wet heart knows it, hears
it in the little claws digging through soil dancing with blind life

 

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