The agaves, the passion
fruit that enveloped me, the silver earmarked for markets beyond
these tropics, they compel you to post outfits at the foot of my bed.
Each morning you blitzkrieg the tavern and pineapple conucos,
turn the rivers into arsenic, lock my kin up in sheet metal factories,
committing autopsies on their bodies while they are still alive.
You ask me to leave. You ask me to return, mounting electrified
fences around my springs and mineral deposits. You bottle up
the reservoir of my birth and ask me to pay, but I have no currency.
You cut the Aymara, the Quechua, the Lokono from my uvula, pry
me from the vines that nursed me, relocate me to a fiberglass
asylum. Tell me to leave my farm fallow. Indict me when I protest,
when I beg to be buried next to my mother. You ask me to leave.
You ask me to return. You irrigate my daughter’s veins, widow
me with your excavations, post eviction notices on my hearth
and render me a vagrant in my own roost. When I scale
the Andes to nest in the backyard of your vacation home,
you drop the red flag and cry encroachment. With a single
papaya I then camp beneath a bridge, lay a blanket across
your metropolis of dismembered mainframes. You send
subpoenas, coin me trespasser. You ask me to return, you ask
me to leave, demand I make myself useful if I am to stay. I repair
your appliances, put up drywall, pick your apples, polish your
porcelain, raise your kids who never see you because you are in
my country putting up luxury townhouses, carving my cousins
into chattel. From your detritus I harvest a new family, subsisting
on only prayer and memory. Feed my kids tomes you abandon
in landfills until they siphon the venom from your syntax,
miracle your numerals, and earn a seat in the academy
next to your offspring. Now you demand a refund on what
you stole. You stifle me after I unearth your cooked books,
smear me for dismantling the guillotine circus you pitch
on my stoop, then dispatch an assistant to offer a settlement
of rotten tripe. When I show you a deed to the land, you
mispronounce my name. You create a shortage of spikenard.
Invent the idea of North. You hock haute couture coups.
Make a lullaby of my wounds. Then you ask me to leave.
You ask me to return. To return. To leave. To return. To
leave. To return. To. To. Turn. To. To leave. To.
To. To. To. To. Deceive. To.
To. To leave.
To. To. To. To.
You ask me. To.
To re. To turn.
To receive. You ask.
Me. You ask.
To. To. To. To. To. To. To. To. To. To.
Earlier version of Areytos for the Shipwrecked: Re/Vuelta first appeared in Huizache: The Magazine of Latino Literature
Vincent Toro is the author of Stereo.Island.Mosaic, which was awarded the Sawtooth Poetry Prize by Ahsahta Press and the Norma Farber First Book Award by the Poetry Society of America. He earned an MFA in poetry from Rutgers and is a contributing editor for Kweli Literary Journal. Toro is the recipient of a Poet’s House Emerging Poets Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, the Caribbean Writer’s Cecile De Jongh Poetry Prize, and the Metlife Nuestras Voces Playwriting Award. His poems have been published in the Buenos Aires Review, Codex, Rattle, Cortland Review, Vinyl, Hawai’I Review, Washington Square Review, Paterson Review, and Best American Experimental Writing 2015. Toro teaches at Bronx Community College and is a writing liaison at The Cooper Union Saturday Program, as well as a poet in the schools for the Dreamyard Project and the Dodge Poetry Foundation.