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Weekly Poem: ‘Hole’

By Naomi Ayala

One morning they dig up the sidewalk and leave
No sign of the truck
only the large dark shadow digging and digging
piling up sludge with a hand shovel
beside the only tree
Two o’clock I come by
and he’s slumbering in the grass beside rat holes
Three and he’s stretched across a jagged stone wall
folded hands tucked beneath one ear
a beautiful young boy smiling
not the heavy large shadow who can’t breathe
Four-thirty and the August heat
takes one down here
He’s pulled up an elbow joint
some three feet round
At seven I head home for the night
pass the fresh gravel mound
a soft footprint near the manhole
like the “x” abuelo would place beside his name
all the years he couldn’t write


“Hole” is from Naomi Ayala’s collection, “This Side of Early” (Curbstone Press, 2008). Her first collection, “Wild Animals on the Moon,” was published in 1997 by Curbstone Press. Her third collection is forthcoming from Bilingual Review Press. Ayala lives in Washington, D.C., and works as an education consultant, translator and teacher.

Poetry Foundation's DC Poetry TourAyala’s poem is also included in the Poetry Foundation’s DC Poetry Tour, a multimedia tour that reveals our nation’s capital through the eyes of its great poets.

From the halls of the federal buildings to neighborhood side streets, the tour features poems written in and about Washington, D.C., as well as photographs by poet Thomas Sayers Ellis. The tour can be taken online or downloaded at www.poetryfoundation.org/gallery/walking-tours, and is available for download via iTunes. (Disclosure: The Poetry Foundation also funds the NewsHour’s poetry coverage.)

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