Contraband

by Juan Pablo Mobili

I come from a place where everything was banned
whatever was made of red and billowed
and the words that could inspire solidarity
 
What was prohibited included songs
the length of hair skirts and sorrows
the extent to which a body may love another body
visiting countries more welcoming than ours
the study of psychology if Freud and Jung were taught
protesting injustice or high prices in the streets
and mothers walking silently in circles
hoping their daughters and their sons would be returned
 
When you live in places
where a deep breath
may someday be outlawed
learning to hide what you might think
is an imperative
 
you become savvy about carrying suitcases
with false bottoms and paying attention
to moon cycles before you load the truck
for the night-drive over the mountain
 
you must learn to master all sorts of contraband
neatly fold the newspaper you leave
between you and the stranger
sitting on the same bench of a certain park
or memorize the password that signals
it is safe to shake hands
 
you learn to master contraband
but nothing will be sadder
than a secret you cannot shout

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