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For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin

For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin

 

Let me be your ice,

 

the boy says in the Texas heat,

black mestizo eyes,

broad face, bare chested, barely sixteen,

 

say this to me

near Losoya and Commerce,

where I have been approached before

 

by a black mother for bus fare, an exhausted

daughter cranky in her arms,

 

in the hotel district, overlooking the Riverwalk,

its paved water-level

pathways flooding with tourists, flowers, and noise,

 

an attempt at urban renewal

where lovers meet

beneath the pecan trees after store owners

roll down the protective metal grills.

 

This boy offers to cool me down

on a day hotter than blood,

 

when, dehydrated and sun-stroked,

all I want after hours

 

of pilgrimage to the four

tumbledown stone missions give this

lonely city some kind of heart

 

is something cold --

 

I will take almost anything,

having stopped at this

snow-cone stand where he seems to have

waited all afternoon for someone

dazed and weary, rubbing

 

the girl who works it, who tries

to block him from me;

the scooped-out globes of crushed ice

she gives me for so little

staining my tongue cherry-red.

 

This cone of mire Arctic

purity smoking

in my hand barely slakes

my thirst and the boy follows

 

as I move on, wants to

guide me wherever it is I want to go,

back to my hotel if need be

Let me be your ice,

mister, you're so hot, you better lie down.

 

The scored veins of his arms

are clotted with stigmata,

the smooth-chested

boy with the eyes of the Virgin

of Guadeloupe whose gaze

sun-crazed I felt

follow me from nave to nave down the poorly

marked Mission Trail last night

 

in the bars along San Pedro.

 

Dark-ees men who flew with the USAF

the only time they left Texas.

 

Their looks make my blood

tingle with cayenne, these grounded

flyboys who like to two-step at the Silver Dollar,

who joyride in pickups after hours

all the way down to the Alamo.

 

And this is where I leave him,

 

at the monument to Col Travis and Davy Crockettt

and the 189 white patriots

who were not the only ones to fall.

 

Something marketable in San Antonio's history

not lost on him

as he starts to explain,

 

this aggressively beautiful boy

who, as the twilight

breezes lift stray

newsprint from the gutter,

 

looks hungry as well as cold,

 

who I refuse with money, not knowing what

icy current of death

he might also carry in his blood.  

 

 

Order your copy of For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin here, and check out the next issue of Xtra, Oct 3, for my interview with the poet John Barton. 

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