Diaspora Sonnet 28

I see my father kneel in tenements

and public spaces—places where he declares

our generous hungers. There, the lilies

dry in the sun, breathless. Desiccating mouths

tilting downward toward the red-marrow floor.

My father’s knees are bruised as he sweeps up

brick dust, ground by many shoes. How the swirls

of wind-gusts from passing travelers move


the script of passing bodies. Whorls. Granules.

Shifting specks making legible faces,

all of whom resemble someone you’ve lost.

Perhaps, in your sweeping, you are truly

gathering something. As the bristles swish,

sounding like a faintly whispered secret.

Oliver de la Paz is the author and editor of seven books. His latest collection of poetry, The Diaspora Sonnets, will be published by Liveright Press (2023). He is a founding member of Kundiman, and he teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University.