In exile do you hear
horrible stories from the homeland and
wring your hands? do you
turn your back and begin to make as they say
a new life?
As if body-language had accents,
which it does, the stranger easy to spot
across the field.
But here, watching the Irish barmaid wait for the drink, her arm
folded so that forearm rests against sternum and wrist
curls, her fingers
toying with a necklace.
One would have thought it painful, but the stance
has years of practice behind it,
the line from gesture to dance,
depiction to enunciation.
She spoke the gestures
of her native land.
And that other one did so after three generations.
I suddenly find myself imagining
my friends torn, dis-
membered, tortured, nightmares
from the evening news,
and imagine last words,
Carlos taking them down
because I’m beyond writing. ‘I have always been
a harlequin,’ I say,
too distracted to find the right phrase.