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  • The Rhizome as a Field of Broken Bones, and: Unhinged Bodies Whisper, and: Keeping My Body Politic Safe, and: Your Poems Are So Political
  • Margaret Randall (bio)

The Rhizome as a Field of Broken Bones

From hops to orchids,ginger to the sanctified bloomwe call Lily of the Valleya horizontal stemor root massmoves beneath the ground,feeling its way,choosing where it will wake and risein yet another multiplying mirrorwe hold to history.

The ancient Greeks gave usthis anatomy: rhizomeas key to vegetable resistance.Utah’s Pando colonyof Quaking Aspena million years young.Neither foragers, insects,fungus nor fireshatters the designof its secret hiding place.

At this level of our fractal universeelegant fernand plebian Bermuda grass,purple nut sedgeor obstinate poison oakwait at trail edgefor the next hiker’sbare legs:all speak the language of rhizometo our grateful ears. [End Page 173]

We who see a fieldof broken bonesview pale faceson memory’s imprintbefriend the rhizome:neither beginning nor end.Balanced at midpoint,it resists chronologyand we claim our placeas nomads on a savage map of risk.

Not linear narrative but radiant gridwhere four-dimensional images danceand one rain forest butterflybloats a Kansas funnel cloudwith energy unmeasuredby the lab scientistwilling to considera million lives collateral damage,intent only on his chanceat the big prize.

Imagine you are a childin Phnom Penh,the skulls creeping rootstalks,one sprouting anotherfrom its nodeof ideology gone insane,twenty sprouting a thousand,two million, a landscapewhere above ground and belowa single terror moves.

Pull your only legacy backthrough Treblinka’s classroomswhere desperate teachershelp children wrap memorypaint freedomon comforting squares of paper.Wander among piles of shoes,mountains of human hair,each new nodean evil birthing. [End Page 174]

Rest yourself in phantom Elazig,now Turkey in denial,where thousands of Armenianslived and lovedbefore the genocide.Contemplate the sharp edgeof a Rwandan macheteand try to remember if youwielded the weapon or knew its steelagainst your throat.

Enter this complex communitythrough its back door,breach its rockiest borderand break the holdsteep systems of conventionhave on you.Open yourselfto timein every dimension.Welcome a new home.

Today I am one morebody of waterfilling available space,trickling downthrough fissure and gaptoward a new map,eroding what stands in my way.You may try to interrupt my dancebut your ugly languageleaves no signature.

From The Rhizome as a Field of Broken Bones (2013), published by Wings Press. [End Page 175]

Unhinged Bodies Whisper

We build our lives over ancient gravesor on the rubble of buildingswhose shadowy walls leave usjuggling questionslost between the lives they housedand ours.

On the warm stones of La plaza de tres culturasunhinged bodies whisper where they lie,their flesh still brandishingsmall glimmers of phosphorus,their words dense as jungles.

We know which culture won:no denial of destiny when wind whistlesits layer of tangled dreamsand numbed searchers continue to search.Memory rides a vast arcbut never settles far from home.

See her there with her basket of vegetableshiding grenades and boxes of shells,not those we find at the beachor hold to our earhopeful for a symphony of waves.

Of course you don’t. Her baskethas turned to dust,centuries gone between her time and ours.But careful where you step,so many still moving beneath your feet.

We inhabit this patchwork peopled by thoseembarrassed for us:every fishmonger finding himselfon desert dry as bone,every child who cannot understandwhy we do not answer when she calls.

Watch your step. Our lives unfoldin faltering symphonyover fields of hungry ghosts. [End Page 176]

Keeping My Body Politic Safe

One day my shadow turned a corneras I walked straight ahead.It tried not to look backbut turnedat the very last minute,its sad eyes...


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pp. 173-181
Launched on MUSE
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