There is a quick sharp pull that one might feel, with it a weighted turn to finding brightness where there is none. I have Seattle to thank for this, but the home of ours must be built anew. And yet I am not in my method and have no sense of worship for the work or to erupt into a broken sense, but I am appreciating the copious sunlight with a startled turf-forming consciousness. You must take the fear of normalcy and the aerodynamics of emotions that fuel the sense of the present and jerk it to a gluttonous love. The wood pulp, the paper, the feeling of how-to ache of these conditions and do not permit the imagination to fold into its chamber. How do I turn this summer around? Is there still an I and no You in this problemed space? Can I sort through our shared moments without your orange pants, your color-blinded syllogisms, and hull of near-end turbulence? I reckon with these days and the practice of finding the sun to its glory so that whatever score I have to settle with sorrow does not affect germination thus far.
In a movie I have never seen: a small-town drunk
stumbles into a beam of light & wakes up convinced
he was abducted by aliens, convinced a hole opened in the sky
& swallowed him — said they did something strange to his body
some kind of experiment, said a hole opened, said cold light
cauterized him shut, redefined that red theory, chrome instrument
turned him into a skinless puzzle, a scrambled egg
sealed back into its shell. Madness, too, can be accumulative.
When my blood seemed uncontrollable, ran messy with pulp
down their fingers, my cousins finally left the room, laughing
closing the basement door behind them.
He will surely take it out when you’re alone
And let it dangle between you like a locket on a chain.
Like any world, it will flicker with lights that mean dwellings,
Traffic, a constellation of need. Tiny clouds will drag shadows
Across the plane. He’ll grin watching you squint, deciphering
Rivers, borders, bridges arcing up from rock. He’ll recite
Its history. How one empire swallowed another. How one
Civilization lasted 3,000 years with no word for eternity.
He’ll guide your hand through the layers of atmosphere,
Teach you to tamper with the weather. Swinging it
Gently back and forth, he’ll swear he’s never shown it
To anyone else before.
—After Ana Mendieta
Did you carry around the matin star? Did you hold
forest-fire in one hand? Would you wake to radiate,
shimmer, gleam lucero-light? Through the morning
would you measure the wingspan of an idea taking off—
& by night would you read by the light of your own torso?
Did you hear through the curtains a voice, through folds &
folds of fabric a lowdown voice—How are you fallen
from—How are you cut down to the ground?
Would gunpowder flash up in the other hand?
Were you the most beautiful of them—the most beauty,
full bew, teful, bu wtie, full be out, i full, btfl?
Did the sky flutter & flower like bridal
shrouds? Did a dog rise in the East in it?
Did a wolf set in the West? Were they a thirsty pair?
And was there a meadow? How many flowers to pick?
And when no flowers, were you gathering bone chips
& feathers & mud? Was music a circle that spun?
Did you spin it in reverse? Was your singing a rushlight,
pyre light, a conflagration of dragonflies rushing out
from your fire-throat? Did you lie down in the snow?
Did it soften & thaw into a pool of your shape?
Did you whisper to the graven thing, whisper a many
lowdown phrase: How are you fallen my btfl?
Would they trek closer, the animals? A grand iridium
thirst, each arriving with their soft velour
mouths to drink your silhouette?
Four less one is three.
Three less two is one.
One less three
is what, is who,
The first cell that learned to divide
learned to subtract.
add salt to hunger.
add time to trees.
Zero plus anything
is a world.
and no other,
by each breath changed.
add death to life.
love without swerve what this will bring.
Sister, father, mother, husband, daughter.
Like a cello
forgiving one note as it goes,
translated by Ana Valverde Osan
There is always adolescence and nothing else at dusk.
When the soft bend in the evening
insinuates its desolate curve,
something within us also bends over.
We have very few things then,
no possession accompanies us,
no possession offends us either.
There is a slow disaster in these hours
that seem the only ones in the day,
those which leave us in the old limits,
those that cannot give us anything,
those of which we do not ask anything.
There is a tender and decomposing disaster
in the final hours of this day
that has gone by like the others,
and, just like them, it has reached
the burning beauty
of that which gazes upon nothingness.
Leaning over my windowsill
I see how a section of time slides by;
evening has softly embalmed
the street’s noisy happenings,
the sky is shrinking little by little
and a burst of patience
wraps the world in soft, ashy hugs.
While the night opens up on the corners,
the moon sets in strange flowers.
This is not how it begins
but how you understand it.
I walk many kilometers and
find myself to be the same—
the same moon hovering over
the same, bleached sky,
and when the officer calls me
it is a name I do not recognize,
a self I do not recognize.
We are asked to kneel, or
stand still, depending on which land
we embroider our feet with—
this one is copious with black blood
or so I am told.
Someone calls me by the skin
I did not know I had
and to this I think—language,
there must be a language
that contains us all
that contains all of this.
How to disassemble
the sorrow of beginnings,
how to let go, and not,
how to crouch beneath other bodies
how to stop breathing, how not to.
Our fathers are not elders here;
they are long-bearded men
shoving taxi cabs and sprawled
in small valet parking lots—
at their sight, my body dims its light
(a desiccated grape)
and murmur, Igziabher Yistilign—
our pride, raw-purple again.
We begin like this: all of us
walking in solitude
walking a desert earth and
unforgiving bodies. We cross lines
we dare not speak of; we learn and
unlearn things quickly, or intentionally slow
(because, that, we can control)
and give ourselves new names
because these selves must be new
to forget the old blue.
But, sometimes, we also begin like this:
on a cold, cold night
memorizing escape routes
kissing the foreheads of small children
hiding accat in our pockets,
a rosary for safekeeping.
Or, married off to men thirty years our elders
big house, big job, big, striking hands.
Or, thinking of the mouths to feed.
we begin in silence;
water making its way into our bodies—
rain, or tears, or black and red seas
until we are ripe with longing.