from The Laceration

As if the tender body is. As if the will is tender

And like any creature that has its hood up, you

take a photo of yourself in front of a window, rain

so dark, the day/perspective so desired. You are so

desperate for beautiful adventure, the lights shut off

and the sweat of some hot stranger in your mouth. As if

to say “before” is to enter a house filled with teenagers

piled on top of each other. Did I tell you that it’s raining?

It’s not hard to think that it’s already night and necessary,

how any green is a wild form, and lastly, I don’t want to

inspire devotion if it means the I becomes separated from the world.

To travel into and out of place […] swift unnature of staying

becomes a frequency […] you can no longer hear, the construct

of happiness, for example, how we long for a heartbeat.

Cement lot […] aching willow tree, our bodies [before] beneath

splay, all sinew and glean, black drape and raw confidence. It’s 1986

and freedom is something inevitable, the way brown boys run

shirtless, invisible siren roaring toward a fit mouth to bit it, O

from saying lightness, from—

What is the opposite of devastation? Fruit?

Disciplines [If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling]

If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling, hands folded to a private sign. We recognize it. If there is a mother kneeling, hands a tent, she is praying or she is crying or crying and praying at the same time. Although it is recognized, the signals of it, it is private and no one knows, perhaps not even she, the content of the prayer, and perhaps its object. If there is a mother praying, she is on her kneels over some object, as one does not often pray in the middle of the room. One prays at the window or over the bed, the head bent slightly up or down, the eyes open or closed. This is a prayer for prayers, you know, a wanting something equal to a prayer, even though I am not a mother.

Disciplines [This is how much fortuitiveness weighs]

This is how much fortuitiveness weighs. Measure in dirt. Of vices and other habits. Of leaving a house at 3 am and drawn as would any tether and here is your lock, my dear. I want to say this plainly: it is only when I am in a woman’s arms that my body is not a threat. Neither crosses nor damnation. Fix nor flutter. Hangs here, this balance, and one opens the car door and drives along the river where it said a crossing might happen. Had happened. Many times. Sticklers will say, not here. There are no crossings here. But, there the I is, reflection and delivered, on the other side. Like hams, I think,
holding on to what was.

Disciplines [Near adust. Caves. Closings]

Near adust. Caves. Closings. Relentlessly the body leaves the bed. Does things. A day is merry and eager for prosperity. It dings dings the bell in its own head. The ritual of masking the breasts in heavy fabric, of covering the legs and feet. A face from the mirror says, I am pretty, I am pretty. Skin of opening, meant for opening. A sex in training. Trimmed, fastidious. Damp reasoning. Yet, adherence. Mask the breasts. Mark the skin. You are not from here, are you? Part tissue. What does it feel like? It feels like everything else. It must be different from some other thing. No. This is what a woman's body is. An effort in covering or not covering. A way toward exits.

Related Poems

Gesture with Both Hands Tied

I’m going to open the borders of my hunger
and call it a parade.


But I’m lying if I said I was hungry.


If dying required practice,
I could give up the conditions for being alone.


I undress in the sun and stare at it
until I can stand its brightness no longer.


Why is it always noon in my head?


I’m going to run outside and whisper,
or hold a gun and say bang,


or hold a gun and not do anything at all.


The lamps that wait inside me say
come, the gift is the practice,
the price is the door.

Traces

In the hard shadow of the moon
when the recesses of light have gone 
and the faint red of the hawk’s shoulder has disappeared from the sky
in the growing pulse of the praying mantis
when the city has come into its own new light
it is here where I often remember:

the weaving of ocean vines
the trails of history, cemented by touch
the small ridged blossom of the cowry shell
the indigo dye made radiant by the seller’s basket.

The way the long grass 
emerges at the shore.
Something of that meeting.

These are memories both distant and near
traces of them lived and felt 
laughing in the company of the ones who came
holding the silence of the moment, as we stare 
with wonder, at the bubbling ruptures of a painter’s canvas,
pull, with care, the clinging skin of a stubborn fruit.

I recall these moments 
not from the grand gesture
of a thing once known, 
but from a small place
the place where my child’s hand
is hidden warmly inside my own.