Change, Creativity, Poetry, spirit

In Defiance of Morning

Wangechi Mutu, Riding Death in my Sleep

You catalogue the early shames,
a tattoo on the lining of your lungs.
The mural leaves its stain despite the stretch
and growth you chart first on door frames
then belt notches
then monthly statements,
each unit of measure distorting the fresco
as much as the measurement taken.
Recognizable no matter the eons intervening,
the arcs of those stories.
Petroglyphs,
kaleidoscopes,
crime scenes,
autopsies.

All tales have tongues.
They scour the natal down
from your heart. They leave a taste
like pennies and char.

So someone’s hands on you.
So someone’s monsters in you.
So someone’s words smearing you with pitch.
So someone’s secret rubbing raw your grip.

You salt your faith.

So wither the shoots.

Today you have license
to pause before waking.
No need to cross over yet.

Stay here in between
closing credits
and house lights. As sun starts to pink the slats
and sew closed the seams, you hear
(you are)
the feral creature and its
(your)
echo against a canyon that yawns
between the servitude
of waking and this unshackled expanse.
Warmed in silk and thatch,
you kick back
against dawn and breach the chrysalis, emerge
winged and blinking. You buzz
and howl
back the morning,
cleave down your spine
and shed shape
entirely.

Return only to the smoldering kiln of twilight:
Conception,
gestation,
burial,
flight.

A creature without kingdom
phylum class, skinned of history,
your mass a map of power
instead of wounds, or maybe power
loosed by wounds.

Stay here in between
your name and everything it can’t hold.
A free and furred thing.
A thirst,
a briar,
a chimera,
a verb.

Your feathers gleam like oil.
Your neck splits in gills.

Here between the earth and your weight upon it,
find your phantom form, the scent and feel
of a shifted shape.
Enter.
Surrender.
Molt.

Stay here a moment
longer,
naked
and shameless
this you
between
and before
you.


Image: Wangechi Mutu, Riding Death in my Sleep (2002)

5 thoughts on “In Defiance of Morning”

  1. There is a time and place in the world for abstraction. When my mother left Puerto Rico for the first time, the year was 1968. Against my unknowing. We hesitate to say what intimacy is and whether or not we have it. I keep trying / to teach my students that / stream-of-consciousness is / this, not that / this / activity fails. We know it does because each of us leaves the room / feeling like barbed wire— snarling behind the barricade (because) at some point, we stopped feeling (like language could say). So we went without while some others embraced. Notice (after the emptiness) : a pain that is not private. In other words, focus not on the object, but rather, the light that bounces off of that object. Perforated. Estranged. Esa luz. Tómatela. Under that light° I felt my body try / to hold on (to the knot inside) your right hand; when did it become a fist? Remind me what it is again / what it is that you wish / to share (with others) >> when you’re on stage…
    °That light, this pain (what never translates).
    Lara Mimosa Montes

    1. Thanks for saying this. It’s been a struggle lately to write anything coherent. The news of the day every day just screeches and claws, and nothing I say seems like it could even keep up, let alone matter. How do we find voice in all the noise? How do you?

      1. I don’t know.
        I can’t keep up. Hard to imagine mattering. But I am some kind of voicing, by virtue of happening. And that’s what I wish to do. Sing.
        You do.
        And I’m grateful for it.
        Thank you.

  2. re-reading… you ARE voicing… no question. Whatever you’re doing? – it’s stunning and astounding for more than a few (I feel certain). I can’t know why you’re voicing… but you are quaking more than a few of us. Thank you

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