"Aubade at the City of Change" by Aldo Amparán
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March 4, 2021 

Aubade at the City of Change


Aldo Amparán

In this city
each door I cross
in search of your room

grows darker
than the sky, this silver
dome of morning spread

across the urban smog.
Country dark washes the city
light off the outskirts

& beyond

where you sleep in hiding,
where your face
wrapped in gauze

shines like sequin
in the lingering moon-drizzle.
I reach for you

at the corners of the clubs,
inside motel rooms,

where rent boys tumble
perspired bed sheets,
doubling you, your maleness

discharged,
your hipbones sticking
to my thighs, hard

stubble of your legs
scratching. The night I followed
a strange road, looking

to forget all this, starlight
spooled the gravel ribbon
leading back to the city

behind me, back
to the hospital room
where I last saw you—

Tonight, I’ll rest
on this road, I’ll look back
to the city of change

where one year
two skyscrapers lifted, a park
shed trees

for new thoroughfares,
& an old cinema
erupted to rebuild itself

in its place. I’ll stay
on the pavement,
suspended in time

like the broken sign announcing
You are entering ______, (a name

changed two years ago),
& I’ll wonder
if the hot breeze

blowing the nape
of my neck
is your unchanged

breath rising like candle
smoke from the city.

Copyright © 2021 by Aldo Amparán. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 4, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“After a year of loss and ‘complicated grief,’ I came to think of mourning as liminal space. How the loss of a departed loved one, or the loss a lover who walks out, places you in a kind of limbo. Even the loss of the self, how time changes you, how you refuse the change, strands you in that border of mourning, like the griever in this poem, ‘suspended in time’ while everything around them changes.”
Aldo Amparán

Aldo Amparán’s book Brother Sleep, is forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2022, and is the winner of the 2020 Alice James Award. He lives in the border cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico.


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Thanks to Sasha Pimentel, author of For Want of Water (Beacon Press, 2017), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Read a Q&A about Pimentel’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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