William Archila was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador, in 1968, and he immigrated to the United States with his family in 1980. He received an MFA from the University of Oregon. Archila is the author of The Gravedigger’s Archaeology (Red Hen Press, 2015), winner of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, and The Art of Exile (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingüe, 2009), which received a 2010 International Latino Book Award. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
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When it comes, my father’s presence
is behind the weight of a country
I’ve lost, like I’ve lost him, on his way out
over the hill, flooring his decrepit wagon,
exhaust pipe exhausted, which brings
me to bed, to the sleep of a sunken log
at the river’s bottom, and my father is in it,
like some huge bear wavering through
the thickest depths, all the while, I keep
my eye on the light shimmering the surface,
wanting to come up for air, but I don’t
want to forsake this absent god
tired in the pale grass. He’s been leaving for so long
it almost seems natural, his aimless driving,
his aimless thinking. Outside, a helicopter
that may or may not allow me to continue
keeps announcing its presence,
clambering out of the rain clouds.
It’s so frustrating, knowing all I have to do
is turn off the light to occupy the dark.