Seth Michelson - Cosmopolitical Fugue

Syrian immigrants smash on the rocks
off Lesbos where Sappho sang Don't shatter
my heart with fierce pain,
the line
looping in my head
as I wake from eye surgery:
the soft white of my right globe
sliced open, leaking:
the recovery room blurred red
as I struggle to resurface
from anesthesia’s dark waters
listening to radio news:
a Mexican immigrant is speaking Spanish
from an apple orchard in Pennsylvania:
a mi me gusta la vida, the hustle to pick:
ten hours per day, six days a week,
don’t even stop to pee,
es mi vida, O glossy fruit,
harvest of dreams; take a break, dear reader,
to lift an apple skyward till it gleams:
juicy ruby, snug and certain
in the world of your grip, what was once
the picker’s is now yours: sweetness
torn into being,
then stacked and sold by farmers
in flannel shirts, muddy boots,
who flip basketfuls onto roadside tables,
apples spilling out like blood from a wound,
like immigrants when rough surf
flips their dinghy, eyes
stung by spindrift, two bodies
already swallowed by the salty roil,
the rest slapping at its icy surface
as they cry out the pain
of smashed migration,
hope a splintered dinghy,
and the Mexican immigrant just now saying
lo que te llevas contigo
es solamente lo necesario,

his voice so clear I see him here:
picking apples from my IV stand
and tossing each burning orb
to a wooden basket across the room: fruit
slashing through the space between us,
red trails of celestial vapor,
red as the surgeon’s first cut,
our vision flooded with seeing,
so pick an apple, famished reader,
and crush it between your teeth: its juice
our prayer filling your mouth,
an invitation to hope.