For Juan Raul

In the tomato fields he coughed
from the dust, from the wings of moths.
Shaking down peaches, he wore
holes into his shoulder-blades.
If a cherry bruised, he had to eat it
so nobody would notice.
For years his stomach burned with cherries.

When he was fourteen he caught a rabbit
with bare hands and ate it alive,
so hungry he chewed right through the fur.
The rabbit had been eating green apples and pine needles,
chewing and starving along with the rest.

In the frost on a dying tree,
he saw death lingering with a December song.
He dreamed stars were stabbing his skin,
trying to get in, trying to turn him into music.

A thousand kilos of grass woke him up,
delivered the cactus spike of love.
A thousand more and suddenly
there was gold in Mexico,
gold in the way his voice
slid between colors, touched
silver and then white.

"I am the hunter," he said, and his
voice shivered as it slipped down
into the streets.

He was no longer afraid of death.