about the author

A CantoMundo fellow, Ángel García’s work has been included in the American Poetry Review, Miramar, Huizache, The Normal School, and elsewhere. Ángel currently lives and writes in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Meditations on Leaving 

Ángel García

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after Ocean Vuong

The first person to leave me
was my father. He took with him
in his hands, my memories:

hollow-boned little animals
perched in his beard. Flightless. A butterfly
knife in his back pocket.


You never liked
                     being held.

Don’t go, I said.
                     Don’t leave.

Left first, instead,
                     to avoid the leaving.


After prayer. After penance. After pain. I don’t know how
to be forgiven. I remember the first time I made my mother
cry. At the dining room table, without a spoon, I brought her
the largest one I could find: a serving spoon. She left, crying.
A stupid joke, about her body, I never said sorry for. That night,
my brothers beat me for what I had done. Even now, healing is a kind
of hurt, in shades of blue. In the body, an open wound breathing.


Think better days. Think Saturday mornings. Cartoons.
          Roadtrips. Salsipuedes. Think summer.
Think summer shades of red.
          Taillights. Not the coming or going, but
being stuck in it. The long goodbye.
Think what you’d give for one more morning.
The warm smell of both your parents
in bed making space for you
between         them.


3am is when I’d go looking, calling you out of your name.


It took years to pronounce it. Instead, open-mouthed, I’d tell anyone I loved them. It didn’t matter. The Denny’s waitress who smoked me out on her breaks. K., who made me wait an entire year. The best friend of the best friend. I didn’t want to be alone. My shadow behind me, always pointing his finger. When I left them, I’d leave only my name: slipped beneath a mattress, hidden in the medicine cabinet, piled in a glovebox like an expired registration. Empty, but not broken.


Say sorry. Say please.

Say it again. Again.

Say it always.


In my bed, I wake up bleeding. No, crying. The difference is not important.


We pick up from the floor what’s left.
          Our clothes. A bottle or two. Cigarette butts
rotting out the room. You say this is the last time.
          You no longer love me. I beg you.
Lover. Lover. Lover. Don’t leave me alone.
          You say my name like it means something.
Tenderly. Outside the night is casting its shadows
          over the city. The streetlights are flickering
on. When you leave, I stand watching.
          Your taillights burning in the red horizon.

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