I hide my cigarettes / under abandoned bricks / in the tall grass past / where I don’t cut, / between the siding / and the downspout / where my kids can’t reach, / under potted plants / their mother no longer waters.
One or more pictures stand out as the book’s primal raison d’etre; that is, there is at least one picture which activates a “flashbulb memory” from the creator’s childhood and which the story explains in an ambiguous way. The manifest storybook explanation for this primal scene is benign and reassuring while the latent and historical interpretation is traumatic and unbearable.
He sits in a creased maroon leather recliner with his feet flat on the rug. The book is slender, nearly weightless in his hands. The door of his tiny study is closed. He reads by the light of a lamp which sits on a dark oak desk now cluttered with a few opened books, face down.
In four decades of family history on the ranch no immigrant had ever made contact. The effort to capture them, though, is omnipresent in the post-9/11 militarization of the borderlands. The number of vehicles on constant patrol in the Big Bend Sector has more than tripled. Helicopters circle, sometimes for entire days, scanning the hills, bearing down on migrants, driving them to the point of collapse.
“George Platt Lynes photographed a naked man, curled / into a snailshell’s infinite regress, and I want / to follow suit, my body a starfish, my skin seized / with a Polaroid purchased on a serious / whim: may I become Lincoln Kirstein or Monroe Wheeler, / wide palms full of fortune, or the sailor / my master of the pick-up / stick picked up and froze in a print / hid in the Kinsey Institute until too recently!”
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