David Hernandez



BEGINNING AT THE END


A gravedigger unearths your casket,
opens the creaky lid,
and welcomes you to the world
of the living, to the smiling nurse

who escorts you to a convalescent home.
With swollen-knuckled fingers
you sift through the red puzzle pieces
of a farmhouse. Years go by

until you are able to remember
the names of all your children,
until the needles of arthritis
are plucked from your joints.

You rise from your wheelchair,
hobble out the sliding glass doors
and greet your son by his name.
He takes you to your home

where a grandfather clock has its back
against the wall. You meet your spouse
and the two of you witness how time
erodes forgiveness, how the bandage

is lifted to reveal the sore of an affair.
For the next forty years you work,
hand over your diploma like a baton,
then attend college. In high school

you find your virginity, stop drinking,
become a kid. You forget
how to ride a bicycle. You forget
the simple mechanics of placing

one foot in front of the other
and begin to crawl. For nine months
you float inside your mother's womb
and shrink to the size of a comma.

And this is how it all ends:
your life fades away into the shiver
of an orgasm, your parents kiss,
then pull away from each other.