Thursday, August 2, 2007

Lineage for Mika

How deep can our rooms grow?
A woman was found in Czechoslovakia
Entombed with arrowheads and fur
And jars, but what of it?
She died over three thousand years ago.
The archeologists have examined her life
From the bones, assembled what’s left of hers,
Polished her stones, published the findings,
Renamed her Sally, and released it to the public.

Now look at her nose bridge, the sunken eyes,
Crooked teeth, feint simplicity.
Is this not your Grandmother’s wishful thinking?

You go through whatever photos you have of her
And piece Her life from the colors you can imagine
The black and white to be. The lithe green
Rice fields laboring in the wind, a woman knee deep
In brown water caught plucking or sinking crop,
Her hair red from constant sunlight,
what her voice could
Have sounded like, something sharp as a polished
Machete, as if her scolds had to submit untamed wild
To summon back your father as he wooed
A lover he’ll never speak of again with blue flowers.

This is what you imagine and pass of as
History or poetry.

Understand the dead do not visit us.
It is we who find them.
We search for them. We recognize a part of our
Many difficult selves in them. Overturn them.
Embarrass them. Display them. Speak them.
It is what it is.

So then why can’t our rooms
Dwell as deep as lineage, four stories underground,
Through bedrock?

Let us dig as deep as fireflies searching for
A way out in the sealed jars of their cusped hands
Because the human spirit
Is selfish and afraid of being between two giants.

3 comments:

naga said...

this poem makes me feel achy.

now i have to tell a brief story:

an idiot-tourist i mean journalist i mean professor gave a lecture in my senior spanish seminar back when i was still in school about andean spirituality. he brought in little talismans from his travels and said something to the effect of "isn't this quaint? some people still believe in this crap." i wanted to walk to the other side of the room and smack his glasses off his head. ethnocentrism apparently still brings in the big bucks at universities. who knew?

ok, i'm going to put the sauce aside now and say that i am in the process of editing a response poem.

naga said...

here is my response (which i will also post on my blog):

"August"

look up i say: look
in the dirt my eyes are as
diamonds in a deep cave with no light
and i am my best and only friend.
will you be there for me? when
i dis-integrate, will you be laughing at the law
of entropy. can this room grow to fit
many rooms? all rooms? because as
deep as i dig no ancestral mouths
emerge to fill my blood with music

that only happens when i step onto the
streets of Kochi in late summer, the
through-ways of the old arcade
shaking with the rattle of naruko
(clapping like fleshless hands) and
jumping with the stomp of sole-based beats.
my mouth fills with the wind of this
island moving me to the ocean
where i turtle up and down the beach, dragging
me and my long shadows along the shores
because i yosakoi - only come around at night.
I’ve never been to Hiroshima,
but I am Nagasaki on a white hot august day.
i am comfortable blinking stars
away but it kills me to drag my body,
growing heavier and more worried,
back into the water, thick with spirits.
back into the pull and pull of the tides,

into the flashing lights rising from
the cities, into the gentrifying
neighborhoods and the forested suburbs
back into the bogs that hatch
fireflies and blood-sucking insects,
where first Native blood rebelled and bled,
and later African blood rebelled and ran red
and eventually dried in the branches as the bodies
swung low, below the Mason-Dixon line.

so i say look! and let the heat sear out
your body through the cornea.
can i collect family the way
bones collect dust in a museum? if
i move, will you fall off? if i settle,
will the room get smaller?
will you be there? (as you say, the dead
will not) and if so, where
will i be? my need is for a land to reach up
from the hills and grab my ankles
tell me that i won't float away. say:
"i got you."

Rrrr said...

omg so beautiful you two