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years ago, in an archive somewhere
        in a file folder, a ream of white fibre and
black ink stains my name, place of birth, country of origin
        none of them sound anywhere like here
in a file somewhere, the metrics of a lifetime
        the merits of citizenship unfurl
judgment between pages, calculating the time you lived here
        how long? where? when did you get here?
and why?

somewhere in an archive, i am burning soft and young
        i am pages of testimonies, receipts, report cards
case numbers making up the limbs i lack on the page
        and somewhere else, my brothers, their papers
deportation proceedings, testimonies, receipts, criminal
        records scratched and bound and gone and
case numbers making up the limbs they lost leaving
        and why?

“sin papeles,” we say, “without papers,” but the term is wrong
        we are wounded libraries of nothing but paper
oceans of thin cuts on the skin we lost along the way and here
        it is how we live, every step recorded, alphabetized, filed
and before they raid workplaces, don’t they build files, too?
        in this country, isn’t there always some piece of paper somewhere
our names threatening a safety you think possible, a fiction you lust for
        and i’d like to imagine an undoing, a less painful way to paper
a license, a passport, a birth certificate, a visa, a green card
and why?

when we are dead, we will leave behind our bills, our mountains of
        leases, loan applications, past due notices, our names on envelopes
and i’d like to imagine we’d leave our love letters, the notes we passed
        our longings and poems and prayers and things we scrawled on the wall
and those are documents, too, proof we were here once
and why.