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Happy Birthday Poet and Friend of Al, Shirley Ancheta

Carabao (For Al)

By Shirley Ancheta



I have felt them, too.
The water buffalo.
They come from far, unlighted fields.
They lead us out of our city streets
Into the sleeping blue of water,
All of us crossing together.

Inside their curved horns, voices
Whisper us back from our wanderings.
On Kearny Street, we are far
from the lettuce fields, the cockfights, the blood of the pig.
And still farther, trapped in memory, comes
the arrival of workers’ boats, of cane
fields waking in the arms of dark men.

I have not always known their tender presence.
In this city
cradled by two bridges
the old ones disguised as dog spirits lick
the bowls we leave for the dead.
The wind spins us in this ordinary world until
someone nearly broken with desire
to be lifted to another country in his heart remembers
the feel of the animal’s black hair, the slow
but powerful carabao walk.

In the dark, they chase us into dream,
into wet voices that bathe
in the blue night,
like the blue awakening of fish.


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