when they painted the room they rearranged his books,
disorder reigns, colored-cracked spines and age and broken
places, words inside intact. of course. the word comes first in
measured life; he has taken that with him long miles from where
he first drew breath.
hot places; no tropical misery now, no wild growth, no sudden
vastness, expanse of desert in the northern places, where he would not go.
he tells his children about growing cassava in hard-packed dirt
and walking miles to hear politicians make personal memorials,
moments more important than years, no future beyond tomorrow-
his children do not always listen. they have been home, and found it
lacking. he carried the word as truth and burden and foundation;
best to understand and worst to love, his father's admonitions of looking
closely still weaving fraught patterns over the place morning meets night.
he sends his cousins parcels of books, international shipping wages stained
permanent fingertips; scrawled messages, scrabbling memory, forcing all
the dream-words into old languages. he wants those children back in the
hard-packed dirt to carry with them a hopeful lexicon, more than growth
and more than belief, but still less than promise-
the students stumble in sleepy-eyed and drawl through rote answers,
huddled in layers against the last remaining cold. he thinks of the sweat
built soundless pasts, submerged in the written construct and drowned
by perception, until all there is to restructure is knowing, and that stays
stone-like cool even in the equatorial heart-
he pulls out his bag, readying the lesson.
he has brought the wrong book to class.