There Is a Devil Inside Me
—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?
Copyright © 2018 by Carolina Ebeid. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
“I am writing a series of poems centered around the video works of Ana Mendieta. In one of them, Mendieta faces a blank wall with her back to us. She bends down to dip her hands and forearms in a pan that is filled with animal blood and begins to draw on the wall a narrow arc the width of her body. With more blood, she writes at the center of this tombstone-like shape, ‘There is a Devil Inside Me.’ My poem imagines the artist as a kind of Lucifer, the messenger bearing light, before falling from grace into the underworld.”