José Angel Araguz is a CantoMundo fellow and a PhD candidate in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Cincinnati. Author of six chapbooks and the book Everything We Think We Hear, he runs the blog The Friday Influence. His second book, Small Fires, is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press.

Also by José Angel Araguz: The Book of Flight Naos Joe

Previously in Glass: A Journal of Poetry: Theology at Work

José Angel Araguz

Speaking Spanish on the Streets of NYC

after Pedro Miguel Obligado I want to believe they are not speaking Spanish, this mother and son so much like the mother and son in photographs back in Texas, but they are. I want to believe this boy has lost no father, this mother never had to explain being broke nor how bodies break, that they speak only sunlight, speak held hands, speak city traffic, speak flags of many countries. I want to believe they are not filled with the same words in which I lost my father, words my mother cried through later, explaining about a man she left and how she'd never leave me, the same words shuffled out as I explained I had to leave — words moving the air between us, words holding over the miles, words letting through all we mean to each other — I want to believe, but know they speak in the same words I have to keep to myself, words mumbled in the park, taking the shape of Mi vida es una rama que, a tu paso, deshojas; I know the words they speak, but not what the words mean between the stranger I am now and this mother and son.

The first draft of this poem came during my time going to school in New York City. I worked at a coffee shop in Grand Central Station during the morning, with classes mainly in the evening, which meant I had whole swaths of hours to walk around exhausted. I even almost passed out while standing on the subway; had a man grab the strap of my satchel and pull me straight up while his son looked on, asking: What's wrong with that man? I mention all this because this particular poem takes me back to being lost in myself, in the city, and the scraps of meaning that I would find in passing conversations and random acts of kindness.

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