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The Line

Gina Franco

          a serious surplus population that needs eliminating

So now we are equals, verdad? All along eyeing the same
     banks,
as though we might surface on the same shore, bare backs
to the sun, wet shirts in hand, boots aside, those too.
You keep saying, El otro lado. See you there,
face to face, no worries.
                                        The last good lynching
was long ago. Ropes, belts, canteens sway in the tree. The
     tree
sings with lightness. In time, the fruit shrank in the heat,
     grinned
wide from the bone, dropped to the dirt.
                                                                 Rot. The earthworm’s
heart, this now. A knot, a fishing spot.
The sweet-blood smell of the hook right through, the
     impaled
form, right through, either soft end writhing on the line.
Beneath the surface, neither vertebral nor articulate, it sways
under water—guts in skin—it sways from the other side,
     verdad,
not a lure but a rumor, a mirror, of a parallel end;

                    we’d fished the shallows with stripped willows,
                    with a hellgrammite drifting in the current,
                    and that’s where we trapped our leviathan,
                    iridescent scales that slid away from our hands,
                    where we crossed the swinging bridge and found
                    effigy and sign, Death to scabs crossing the line,
                    a volleyball head and a pair of shovels for limbs,
                    the hanging white sheet, the slashed body of many:

                    the hanging white sheet, the slashed body of many:
                    a volleyball head and a pair of shovels for limbs,
                    effigy and sign, Death to scabs crossing the line,
                    where we crossed the swinging bridge and found
                    iridescent scales that slid away from our hands,
                    and that’s where we trapped our leviathan,
                    with a hellgrammite drifting in the current,
                    we’d fished the shallows with stripped willows

y verdad, the cities on either side of the river watch
one another from the eyes of their televisions.
Their headlines race beneath glass

—they have taken my father’s body
and I do not know where they have laid him—

and light. Love as the sinker, the line sinking deep. The last
     time
I saw my father was in a dream, seated on every side of the
     table
of ancestors, and belonging so fully, he ceased
          to exist. They arrived
on the other side, at the tree at the end of this world, and the
     tree
drank deeply. Love as a secret, unbearable map. Tell
     me—verdad
where you have laid the body (and

I will bear
him away. I
will bear him a-
way. I will bear
him a way).