I cannot hold on I see myself shrinking. I see the waves absorbing us. They are so much kinder than the sinking city. The waves want us. The collapsing city does not. It spits us into the screaming basin. An authoritative body asks us how much grit we need to survive the dormant police-state-austerity-regime. We are drowning. We are searching for light. We are searching for posthumous sincerity but all I can hear is the broken testimony, the poetry of the infected lung. The poetry of the drowning mouth. The raw bits of shithole life that keep crumpling up in the wastewater.
And the lake foam is like plastic justice. The foam is an amorphous cage. It is the bluff, the code, the last verb she spoke before she was tossed into the privatized sinkhole. The privatized sand is weeping. The privatized lake is petroleum (again). It is gurgling. It is exploding. It is asking us to follow the route it has established. This way to the end of your amorphous privatized cage. This way to the wound-channel the earth cannot swallow. And we dance this way. And the lake vomits out its God-waste this way, vomits up the oil-slicked sturgeon, the rattling death-breath of millions and billions of minnows.
We fight for our bodies and we hope for a quiet battle. We do not want to die alone and we pray for invisible consolation. We do not covet the protections they do not offer us.
Daniel Borzutzky is a poet and translator who lives in Chicago. His most recent book is Written After a Massacre in the Year 2018 (Coffee House Press, 2021). His 2016 collection, The Performance of Becoming Human won the National Book Award. Lake Michigan (2018) was a finalist for the Griffin International Poetry Prize. His other books include In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015); Memories of my Overdevelopment (2015); and The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011). His translation of Galo Ghigliotto's Valdivia won the National Translation Award, and he has also translated collections by Raúl Zurita and Jaime Luis Huenún. He teaches in the English and Latin American and Latino Studies Departments at the University of Illinois at Chicago.