Home > Poetry > Curtains
Published: Mon Apr 15 2002
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

What if this little domestic act
became my last?
I measured walls with a retractable
metal tape,
my number two pencil drew spots for
grommets and screws,
I drilled holes for rods to music
from Burning Spear.

Would it still turn out askew,
lop-sided despite
my spirit-level and much stepping
back to examine
my slow progress? These heavy
Key West green
as in Key Lime pie colored drapes
hang in neat folds,

bar Miami’s excess light from fading
ligature and door,
velvet drapes that might line my coral
coffin if I
decided to go Miami Vice style, if
I opted for
burial at sea, if in walking the plank
as I often did

in my attempt to dance reggae at
the Happy Sailor
in Coconut Grove on Sunday nights—
more a springboard
than the plank—I’d suddenly reached
my end and tipped
forward, seawards, rolled on tiptoe,
in skis, launched off

an Olympic ramp, then pulled around me
those same aqua-
green drapes and toppled thus caparisoned,
in that reggae
dance of life, surrounded by coral, a numb,
numberless pencil,
those curtains would hang straight as a dye,
for eternity,
but not hung by me.

See what's inside AGNI 55

Poet and novelist Fred D’Aguiar directs the MFA Program at the University of Miami. His latest book is Bloodlines, a verse novel published by Overlook Press in 2001. (updated 2002)

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