- Lunar Planting
Letters from New Grace
Daughter,be wary of men.
They burn soliloquies,sift charred wordsthrough teeth.Even their sweetest wordsare bitter, melt darkin your belly, rideyour chest like untamehorses at daybreak.
See, I've been waiting heresince it ended, combingthe late streets for lost dogsand scraps of your laughter. [End Page 203]
Each day I washmy eyeswith your memory.
Oh love,you've beenlonelierthan I can bear.
Tomorrow I will come for you,fists oiled and hungerstrapped to my back.
Wait for me,guard your hearttill you hear my cry.
Ashes anoint each rooftop,each footstep is ground glass.
I wonder how you've managedto outrun the decades of loss.
Dying light frames your shoulders,the tight angle of your martyr's spine.
We were worlds from here,once.
The skyline is a hatchworkof boneseaten cleanand left behind
. . . but we are too hungry hereto make memory. [End Page 204]
Your eyes billow with smokein the ruined room.
New Grace was never home,you say.
Home is for the next life.Here is already burnt.
There are no more stars, Mother.No light but the glareof the moon's white grin.
I've no words left to write,nothing to say but this:
Over time, one forgetsthe business of bodies.
I carry my bones softly,bear his weight whileI count the ceiling'srotted ribs.
A tree still lives here,somehow.
When I breathe deep,something yellow, ambrosialswells in me likethe distant memoryof love.
But nothing bears.
God, I am tired of being youngupon this dead earth. [End Page 205]
I am so tired of beingsomeone's daughter
The nets drowned my mother's great heartlong before I learned to weep.My father, a fisherman's son, wore his hairslicked back, razored at the templesto keep the vultures away.
My brother said daddy's left eyeonce belonged to a fearsome fish.
I'd often wondered aboutthe crown of boneson the dresser,
but there are no cornersleft herefor hiding things.
I keep my mother's picturetucked beneath my waistband,against the stitched muscleof my belly.
My right eye is a sharpened blade,my breasts are bound bythe ribs of fearsome fish.
There is no mercy left for daughtersin New Grace. [End Page 206]
On Poisoning Trees
There is a way to walk among trees:slow, open-handed, face turnedupward to the breeze.
And there is a way to carry sorrow:washed, filed blunt, tuckedbeneath your first rib whereit won't snag your heart'stwice-stitched silk.
Pack away your poisons, lady,all your sharp knives, save themfor the season to come.For tonight you must walkbeneath this beggar's moonwith no language lefton your tongue.
Overhead, something stirs,calls forth rain with itsfluvial cry.
This is how the flood comes.And this is how trees die. [End Page 207]
Last full moonI left a woman's white bonesamong these leaves.
It was a season for planting,for pruning trees andburning waste.
Mama said someone must haveswept over my feet once, keptme from living good.No holy gold adorns me,but see how I shinebeneath your farmer's moon.
I left my old self here,in this unburnt hollow.
You wanted me closer,closer than the nightfallen across your back.
I remember the thin silkof that moonlight, your faceflaring bright againstmy body's smoke. [End Page 208]
There was no room leftfor the woman who coweredand wept among the day's lilies.I wrung her from my body,like waterlogged vine.Her faint heart slippedfrom my mouth into the river'sknotted neck, wherelost things rushand drown.
Mama is wary now of holding mewith her arthritic knucklesand twice-stitched wrists.I burn like glass,harden in the red earthwith no whispered prayerto save...