Late Winter After Leaving My Country

Francisco Márquez

It was the idea of distance, not distance itself,

that troubled me. Even saying it, exile—

breathless, betrayed the feeling. Some say

the gift should be perspective, but the desolate field

of ice over water does not console me:

a sight, like a feeling, that arrived as winter began

to make sense, every suffering illuminated

by form and reason, like an answer

to a question that came with no asker

until the shade of crystallized blue washed

over the entire season, the half-dark

that consumed the days, nothing but a color

to latch onto grief.…Wouldn’t it be easier to say

the lake was a sign of danger, a specter revealed

by nature’s infinite gaze? It wasn’t. The ice

had been hard for months. So hard snowbanks

collected and lingered, and flocks of geese crossed over it

like a bridge, in which even skaters abandoned

their tracks, who followed the path as far

as it went, disappearing like the passing

of a dream.…A dream: that is what it felt like,

to see shoots rise on the branches or ice

clarify daily into water: the confirmation

that all had been lost before, before it returned,

and returned, and (Know it!) everything returns.

Francisco Márquez is a Venezuelan poet with work in Narrative Magazine, The Best American Poetry 2021, and The Slowdown podcast. The recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Project and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, he lives in Brooklyn.
Originally published:
June 12, 2023

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