This is one of the seven lies: I grew to love
the absence. Months before I was born, my mother
says, a man came home to dig out the dead
maple tree in the backyard. Says when she was seven
the branch that held her in a swing split, like her knee
with the fall. I took
my shadow for a sibling
for the longest time. I carried the dead
in my tonsils. One dull midnight
in August, absence
boiled my skin to purple seeds: fevers
high enough to stretch the horizon on my face.
My grandmother pressed the cold
eggshell against my skin. I felt her
prayers shift the air, the candle’s burning
In the nightstand, her rosary crackling as she broke
the tainted yolk
into the glass. Mira, she said,
& I looked: yellow leaking the red
dots of absence which I bore: my mother’s
dead tree: loose soil in the backyard:
my father’s face looking back.
“Genealogy” from Brother Sleep by Aldo Amparán, Alice James Books, 2022.