Andres Rojas is the author of the chapbook Looking for What Isn’t There (Paper Nautilus Press Debut Series Winner, 2019) and the audio-only chapbook The Season of the Dead (EAT Poems, 2016). His poetry has been featured in the Best New Poets series and has appeared in, among others, AGNI, Barrow Street, Colorado Review,Massachusetts Review,New England Review, and Poetry Northwest.
Using the Scout’s Handbook While Learning English
Not yet a full animal, no longer
fully a cub, sunlight green on me
through summer’s high canopy, a stream
mud-cheeked from last night’s rains:
from fifteen years on, I see
myself, lean for my age, light-boned
as a kestrel, fleeing a housing project
not so much life-preserver
as a hurricane’s next island. But today,
the tallest I’ve been and growing,
I think I’ve come for animals.
From their world, mine
must seem both comically unstealthy
and full of sudden excitements. But I
see, as I still see, both the signs on the mud
and the need to read them, their tracks
a test for the Handbook.
And it serves: a pair of racoons, deer,
and, later, what I wanted to be a bear
but was just a dog, the known names
besides the unknown:
muskrat, grouse, skunk. And I
don’t yet know, but I’ll remember
this day, when I asked and was answered,
when the world spoke its persistent language
and I, with due care, understood.
“Wild things are made from human histories.” Helen Macdonald
The last boats brought back the tide
in their holds, twilight-rust
on fittings resigned to old age. There,
the sun’s jaundiced heel. Not yet
the bare-kneecap moon among clouds.
Earlier, the overcast flew its rags
and vernal floods around
the vestal dunes. Willets
tip-toed each wave’s last slow spill,
the ocean’s grab sharp as cold talons.
An osprey, prow-like, cuts
seaward to the coming gloom, easy
past us whom it need not flee nor stalk.
What other storms don’t trouble
its mind? That it kills? That no wing
shelters it from chance? You’d think
the habitual plovers and turnstones,
or from a seagreen nimbus
ambush seagulls. But like the boats
and us, it holds to its tack
as a matter of course,
and its craving is fish: blind
beyond their element, harried,
dead to what shadows lurk above.
Dead People’s Things for Sale
Here lies a fragment of their affection,
two olive-bronze chairs
across a shield-round table,
a planter in its middle for green shoots.
On it they shared figs from a tree
behind their rental, held each like a toad’s
pale belly sliced to marigolds
or to a knee’s meager pomegranate flesh.
I was there. I remember.
The tree is gone. So is their rental,
the block plowed flat for a hospital’s garage.
The table we kept for a later rending.