Eighteen years ago my cousin Arthur
died alone in a hotel
and thus was my contact with the old world gone
as his ashes scattered
on the west wind.
I must visit him one more time so we can
resurrect the past,
the look of my mother
in a white dress, how she caught my father’s dark eyes
when he came, a stranger, to break
bread at her house.
We are two old men in the Hotel Violetta
late at night, each inventing
a life he can live with.
Always Arthur’s litany of regrets: how Federico
implored him, “Come to Santiago,”
how Arthur turned
it over in his mind and finally declined.
“Philip,” he says, “I could have
as a crushed cat, a lost boy, a needle
singing in the vague forehead
of a dying bull.”