My whole life I have obeyed it— its every hunting. I move beneath it as a jaguar moves, in the dark- liquid blading of shoulder. The opened-gold field and glide of the hand, light-fruited, and scythe-lit. I have come to this god-made place— Teotlachco, the ball court— because the light called: lightwards! and dwells here, Lamp-land. We touch the ball of light to one another—split bodies stroked bright— desire-knocked. Light reshapes my lover’s elbow, a brass whistle. I put my mouth there—mercy-luxed, and come, we both, to light. It streams me. A rush of scorpions— fast-light. A lash of breath— god-maker. Light horizons her hip—springs an ocelot cut of chalcedony and magnetite. Hip, limestone and cliffed, slopes like light into her thigh—light-box, skin-bound. Wind shakes the calabash, disrupts the light to ripple—light-struck, then scatter. This is the war I was born toward, her skin, its lake-glint. I desire—I thirst— to be filled—light-well. The light throbs everything, and songs against her body, girdling the knee bone. Our bodies—light-harnessed, light-thrashed. The bruising: bilirubin bloom, violet. A work of all good yokes—blood-light— to make us think the pain is ours to keep, light-trapped, lanterned. I asked for it. I own it— lightmonger. I am light now, or on the side of light— light-head, light-trophied. Light-wracked and light-gone. Still, the sweet maize—an eruption of light, or its feast, from the stalk of my lover’s throat. And I, light-eater, light-loving.
Copyright © 2018 by Natalie Diaz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 4, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
I don’t call it sleep anymore.
I’ll risk losing something new instead—
like you lost your rosen moon, shook it loose.
But sometimes when I get my horns in a thing—
a wonder, a grief or a line of her—it is a sticky and ruined
fruit to unfasten from,
despite my trembling.
Let me call my anxiety, desire, then.
Let me call it, a garden.
Maybe this is what Lorca meant
when he said, verde que te quiero verde—
because when the shade of night comes,
I am a field of it, of any worry ready to flower in my chest.
My mind in the dark is una bestia, unfocused,
hot. And if not yoked to exhaustion
beneath the hip and plow of my lover,
then I am another night wandering the desire field—
bewildered in its low green glow,
belling the meadow between midnight and morning.
Insomnia is like Spring that way—surprising
and many petaled,
the kick and leap of gold grasshoppers at my brow.
I am struck in the witched hours of want—
I want her green life. Her inside me
in a green hour I can’t stop.
Green vein in her throat green wing in my mouth
green thorn in my eye. I want her like a river goes, bending.
Green moving green, moving.
Fast as that, this is how it happens—
soy una sonámbula.
And even though you said today you felt better,
and it is so late in this poem, is it okay to be clear,
to say, I don’t feel good,
to ask you to tell me a story
about the sweet grass you planted—and tell it again
until I can smell its sweet smoke,
leave this thrashed field, and be smooth.
Copyright © 2017 by Natalie Diaz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.
On this seventh day
of the seventh month, magpies
bridge in a cluster
of black and white
the Sky King crosses
to meet his Queen, time tracked
by the close-knit wheeling
of stars. I watch. You come
to me tonight, drunk on wine
and cards, nails ridged black
to ease the pain
of work. We are
all men here. Any
body can be
a bridge, little raven,
your eyes squeezed shut
but not from pain.
a trestle, a grade
we build together.
What matter if you say
you’d never choose
me were there
in this desert. I
chose. I choose
the memory we share
of rivers, your hair
of smoke and raw,
wet leather. A man
man’s hand makes himself
tool or weapon, says
the overseer, as if a man’s use
to another is only one
of work. Pleasure
is our only chosen
are the home
I briefly make, the country
I can return to. Now
the moon wheels
its white shoulder
in the dark as you push me
to earth, slip
my whiskered tip
of hair into your mouth.
Copyright © 2021 by Paisley Rekdal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 14, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.