“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

MY NATURE

Play
Pause

Dusk unfolds its slanting light

blazing yellow fall, plucked and clean-shaven



Her low race down into the soil
Most things on that body can be braided
pulling roughly at the roots
grown wrong, ancient slanting sun

A braided path tightens over the field
it splits the ground into what grows and what grows tight
Your neck unfolding
someone follows in your footsteps straightening out
She’s the one who wets my freckles
that’s her, in my face
mother, sweetness

The stars are large tonight, shining greedy and greasy
a scent of God
They forgot the harvest
our faces    peeled almonds
slowly turn    in the wind

We do this for the mother, the dividing and cutting
we do it for the bitter, sharp
we make it tight.
Every tiny bulge, every
black and blue tuft of grass we pull and tighten and
braid into the dirt.

When the stars fall they’re grey from space and longing
pounding bodies crash into hordes
drifts of what no longer twinkle:
mass communication, the speech act

Inside the fallen a word revolts
before the crash, before the skin, o God

The child brings home her hordes



Return to the curtains that are drawn, opening
A young man enters the low stage, wearing
a black leather miniskirt, a minimal tank top, moves his hips,
not quite dancing.
He’s as undressed as you can be.
Balancing his nudity between his hip’s narrow, almost
imperceptible moves. There. Hold fast.
Keep that tension, the observer’s gaze.
The stage is red, the folds in the curtains even redder.
The young man is so beautiful
I cry
His hips are moving slightly, he is dead serious
A concentrated toss of the head

I realize they have to be slim    this is 1986
I realize 1986 that it’s desire for another man
My glittering gray fixation

give in to it, spit it back, give in and

I spell out: a dark inscription.
like restraint. This is us.



She divides the dark into darkness and what comes from the mouth
she divides the dark into what’s beaten and what’s felled
In a ward of grass and wheat girls lie in straight lines
Yellow shines from beneath the letter e
I present my finest letter to thee
Winding it roughly around the neck

It has to be yellower
it has to be like madness to seem so very yellow

it has to be yellower
it has to be like decay to seem so very yellow

The waves must be yellow and the foam
the foam of the sea must be shot through with yellow

Your autumns smell like almonds, drag them out
The sky, of course

The 6th  of October 09
Even metaphors are just another way of getting laid



So close to the sea I cut the waves
so close to the roof I cut the treetops
so close to the ditch I cut the sky
so close to the road I cut the sidewalk
so close to the stem I cut the petals
so close to the window I cut the view
so close to the glass I cut the light
so close to the cloud I cut the sun
so close to the voice I cut the song
so close to the rock I cut the root
so close to the dirt I cut the root

so close to the speech I cut the tone
so close to the writing I cut the speech
so close to the speech I cut the writing

I cut the speech with the writing and
the writing with the speech
Down where the red begins

A LA MERE

 

                                                       a minor

 

 

and one who escapes

 

i m a g i n e


                       the battle for pleasure

 


                                                               between race and beauty
                                                               the word is gilded by flesh

 


an immobile wrist
reveals everything


                            the root
                                         the earth expels what’s below

“and the long vowels in the girls’ throats tighten in the sun”

 

 

 

transition to the wrist
                          here the girl begins

 

 

she destroys her body
as soon as she articulates
a female madness

 

 

“I already knew”
my hand was searching for something red




tradition!


this is where we all unite


to annihilate her face

 



black apostrophe
the mother appears ever more seldom
here our
hips may obstruct the movement
the foam of femininity

 

 

she answers childhood with her hands

 

 

her sounds are regulated
beneath   sublime   stony

 

 

 

I cannot see

the mouth in their words

 

 

You point out the place where petrification occurred. I avoid
it, the dream of the sculpture, but it rocks me like
disease, femininity. Dark night of marble.

 

 

 

because letters are black by nature

 


Springtime with the girls. They willingly part their meanings.

 

 


An answer, a dream, and whatever must be black. The night cuts out/forms
a wrist that belongs to no one.

 

 

Girl. Minor. Bruise. Syrup. The negative says nothing of the word’s images.

 

 


The high-pitched voices are practically homeless. Without
language they move in and out through the girls.

 

 


The room smells of sea. The hand erases and rewrites. Hands
cupped around the grief. She heaves herself out
of the strange.

 

 

 

in order to catch sight of
what she lost

the father spelled wrong

the hunt for the innocent
the victims’ resistance broken down by close-ups

 

 


on the inside
the yellow that spelled her name
this loathsome treachery
that forces her to escape

a new history
will document the removal of the roots

Appears in this issue
Mara Lee is a Swedish poet, novelist and scholar. Her most recent publication is the poetry collection Kärleken och hatet (The love and the hate, 2018).

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Elizabeth Clark Wessel is the author of four chapbooks of poetry, most recently first one thing, then the other (Per Diem Press, 2018). She is also the translator of numerous fiction, memoir and poetry projects.

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