Manzanar: Rough Work
Despite the barbs, he thanks the cacti
for their sour berries. His sweaty hand
smears the letter from the city of vultures.
Your boat is gone, his friend writes.
The yuccas tell him some beseechments
should be held close, never uttered,
others flung to the wind. He rakes
a walkway between the barracks,
digs a pond. The sun poaches his face.
With rough work, with the mariposa lilies
and beard-tongues he plants, a garden rises
where dread should be. He breathes in
the blue lupines, the far mountains,
and cools his prickles of heat, his fear
that he’s hanging, caught in the air—a lantern
full of fire, a stranger to the earth.