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Callaloo 23.1 (2000) 216-217

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Sunday Lessons

Dawn Lundy Martin

Part 1: In the Family

         Larger than what they hold.
Too gentle.
         They reach inside the mouth.
Guarded       locked       hidden
         beneath tongue.
As if cure.
Hands pull against seam.
         Part what resists.
Maze of thread-weave.
         The tender rim.
Beneath skin, bones, teeth.
When girl was lifted as skirts are.
         Soiled and torn, ankles black,
bare, skinny.
         Preference still.
Voice empty.
         Saying       this happened
and this          and this.
How many bodies is it
         from the basement
to the church
         to singing hallelujah?
The mother's hand
         holds the wrong tool,
undoes the cape,
         tightens the tarp,
encloses fist,
         wedges grip. [End Page 216]
Scars are ellipses on face.

To puncture and to welt it.

Could tell those travels.

Direct at blood-beat angled as to cease it.

Wanting a single occasion,
         found wallet
or just to be a boy.
Walks up the narrow staircase
         to top of lighthouse,
waves crash the air tight
         in fist       after fist.
Longing for all that depth,
         that eternal distance.
Erupts from the belly like the letter G.
         Teeth come together in grit.
The bottom row pressed neat behind
         the upper mount.
Tongue flexing
         as if in fucking
or the razor intentional on flesh.
The body is so small.
How could--

I was a girl once, as free as a boy.
As certain as hot light in summer.
Desiring Daedalus's craft.

Dawn Lundy Martin is studying for the PhD degree in English literature at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has a Master's degree in English/creative writing from San Francisco State University. Dawn is working on her first collection of poems titled Other Americas.



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pp. 216-217
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