Map of the Unfinished by Kathleen Boyle
Among the singer’s last words before
He was shot: I will see you in Xela.
They say it was an accident, they meant
Only to kill the driver. I have never been to Xela.
I have wanted to travel those highland roads,
And not only because of its names:
Xela being its nickname, Chela, short
For Quetzaltenango, and who wouldn’t want to travel to a town
Named after quetzals, even if the Spanish
Were the namers? But not just Xela itself, no,
To San Carlos Cija, to La Union, where
I imagine every Guatemalan I’ve ever met
Is on the street eating green mango
At the precise beginning of mango season.
But people do not talk about mangoes now,
They talk about this cousin abducted, this person
Killed, about how not to go back, ever,
To the place they are from. In Guatemala in
Those easier years we swam in lakes, ate
Normal food after months of platos tipicos,
Typical plates. I still remember
The French toast. Volcanoes. The last time
From the airport the bus security was: metal
Detector, careful bag search, the ayudante
Slowly walking the aisles, videotaping our faces.
Once on the road north the movie was carnage
And young children watched. How to live with this?
They say humans can adjust to anything. They say
The trajectory of bullets was from right to left into
Memories which do not overlap into alms, memories
Which are apparent counterweights. A spring when
Pressed upon that opens a hidden drawer
Kathleen Boyle’s work has previously appeared in Zyzzyva, The Seattle Review, The Atlantic Online, and many others. She currently lives on a boat, which will hopefully influence her work to become more rhythmic.