THERE IS A HOLE IN MY LIVING ROOM
for Macedonio, Manuel, and Fidencio
There is a hole in my living room that my grandfather cannot climb out from. I bring him water sometimes, because I know he’s thirsty, because I know his medication dehydrates him, I know the crackers and salami he loves to eat need to be washed down with something. But I can only hear the incomprehensible echoes of Spanish like the death hum of a gasping bird trying to lift itself out of the darkness. I leave each glass of water around the hole in my living room like a vigil of glass and water alive with sunlight. No one drinks them. There are 2,700 glasses of water near that hole but no one will drink them. My grandfather has died, and there are 2,700 glasses of water near a large hole in my living room where my grandfather used to dance, where he used to sing El Rey and balance all of his nietos like a dozen brown canaries across his biceps. My grandfather has died, and there are 2,700 glasses of water that cannot satisfy our thirst.
—from Rattle #23, Summer 2005
Manuel Paul Lopez: “I’m currently living in a small, small agricultural town in southern California, about 14 miles from the Mexicali border. This place might not be London, or Paris, or Los Angeles, but there’s death here too. This poem was written after the passing of my grandfather.” (website)