She must be milked every morning so that she will produce milk, and the milk must be
boiled in order to be mixed with coffee to make coffee and milk.
—Gabriel Garcia Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
Imagine the years being sucked out
of you, the losses so numerous
you counted gains instead: the shiver
of holy water, your quinceañiera,
burnt cedar, the faith in the cross-
town taxi in Mexico, not knowing derecha
from izquierda. Think of all the shattered
glasses, cursing the sky, women you keep
yearning for. You taste the slow arrival
of the moment only to watch it fade
anxiously. Now think of absence, staring
at some beast in a field and saying never
have I seen this thing in front of me.
When the cow moos you will understand
the simple lexicon of the green
in its mouth, the dynamics of the jaw like
nothing you can’t recall, have never seen.
And what impossible eyes--unlike yours--
swelling with your losses and successes;
they too are losses, ready to escape
your skin like the sweets of a piñata,
the dull thud of the instant still there,
when you realize that to know this beast
by name is to lose this beast, lose it
hopelessly in the catcombs
of names for other things: the coffee bean,
your blood, the ripe guava, penitence,
the left bank of the river, crumbling,
where you learned cow from awkward profile,
milk-heavy, its one eye, reflecting.