Public Archive

We are a people of hands in our pockets
grabbing & wanting & stuffing our money
deep inside our jeans.

We have a forefather. He is a tintype.
Posed at his pharmacy storefront,
face blanched empty for the century of light.

In our countrysides there are ice blue
lakes, lagoons hot & still as broth.
We family & document.

My sister falls & bruises her eyes.
Sends me the picture. My palms
on the laptop's plastic casing

feeling for the image
of a face like & unlike mine.
We want to be a people

of beauty enough
to be its own small currency.
If our ancestors had a hero, they built him

of bronze & silence.
I stack my coins.
A monument to themselves.

Allyson Paty's poems appear or are forthcoming in Tin House, jubilat, Kenyon Review Online, Best New Poets 2012, the PEN Poetry Series, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is co-founding editor of Singing Saw Press.