Home > Poetry > from The World Book: Volume T, Pg. 7974
Published: Sat Jul 1 2006
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
from The World Book: Volume T, Pg. 7974

On this page, a boy skates. See blades,
see ice. See his leg trembles. He will fall—
the future. On the river bank, another boy
waits—the present. I’m learning
Spanish—progressive—and failing.

No comprendo. Of the numbers, I remember one,
of course, and eight. If asked, my phone:
ocho-ocho-ocho, ocho-
ocho-ocho-uno. I say, Yo soy Grégorio
but I am not Gregory. This boy on skates

se llama Grégorio. Greg tiene eight.
Grégorio has ocho años, possesses
the number of times the river has frozen.
¿Qué hora es? Upside-down question
marks, for me, me gusta, this announcement

of inquiry. The time, las ocho minus uno—
below the equator, it’s summer. Simple
futurity: it will be—; I shall—. Futility,
hopeless labor of so many tenses, tests,
the stone rolls back down—determination,

tensile stress (see: STRENGTH OF MATERIALS)
leads only to expansion. Vocabulary,
a simple tent resembles the letter A—primitive
dwelling of new words—verbs like ropes,
structural members in a particular tense,

say past. Tenochtitlán (see: SPANISH CONQUEST).
I no longer say eggs for Thursday.
A small victory, the distance between
why and because: por qué to porque—
nearly the range of a tenor, two

full octaves from C to C.
Si, conquistadors of figure ochos.
Figure in a few blunders. Like a tenpin
the boy falls. The other boy laughs.
Always pitch your tent on high ground.

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