October 30, 2010

audubon answers instead

no wonder I cowered when I caught
those two round black eyes staring from stairwell

the night in constant flux of waiting and not
of answering and not at all. I asked for the reminder—

that I, a part severed without
and within—the quiet pawing assurance

the city could not, indeed, be so cruel as to not embrace me back.
until that long slinked tail, what friend

a vile opossum keeping my watch.
funny, the moan struck hard in my throat, every inch

of my skin coiled back into itself, how neither of us paced
beyond a slow dance, watching.

I could not listen, could not sit beside its fur pressed body
not accept the guest, realize this invitation

for courage, a small life fevered beneath my chest,
calling me out. fickle woman: don’t you want this angel,

did you conjure this spirit forth, hoped it kept your heart
from flinching at the pulp raw mess of itself, again?

the centaur falls in love with a mortal

not because he was half horse half man,
that he straddled between this world
and the unseen laced between his muscle
how his shoulders bear resemblance to
perhaps having wings once, because that
would make him something else all together,
and we can’t go around mixing mythology.
not because the woman liked cigarettes
in the morning with her coffee, needled
the boot sized cavern beneath her collar
bone shut with iridescent twine and pearl,
how the mouths of her wrists emptied out
pomegranate seeds she buried deep
in the potted dirt throughout her house.
but because when a hoofed archer with
an arrow for a heart asks you to come,
outstretches his hand and pulls you in,
when the soft thread of tail winds around
your calves, your bodies melding into
some other origin that no one will
believe, when the morning finds him
only a man curved to the eclipse of
your body, you will think it a dream
you will tell the mailman or the grocer
he is only human, while he nods and
smiles and tucks the bow behind his back

Proverb, When I’m Tired Of Asking

If a tree falls. Right. All of this happened.
None of it matters. If the ground groaned
from behind the cottage in the woods,
if you were drinking whiskey at the bar
laughing too loud to hear it. If the echo
woke you in the middle of night
if you were too busy making love to notice,
remember the tree falls, a blue horizon full
of them in your chest, sometimes a ghost
hangs there, sometimes it’s face twists in
knots through bark, sometimes you take
a hacksaw to the branches, this one named
Gabriel, this one Brian, other names too far
behind to give a damn, sometimes it’s old
redwood: you’re tired of it dropping dead chunks
into the pit of your stomach, sometimes there’s
no warning, only rage for absence, for longing,
sometimes those roots are just too deep to dig.
Keep a pick axe in your pocket at all times,
do what you can at dusk, if it falls, consider
the drum might be in your head, tie a swing
to it, until you find whatever answer
you need, then chainsaw that fucker down,
construct a coffee table, a jewelry box, make it
useful for holding everything in but your truth,
sometimes there’s no polite way to lumber from
poison oak, can’t dance around it, no sensei to guide you
from the cliff: bonsai is sacred, clip branch, leave therapy—
laurels always fall, boysenberry stains your patio
rots through the roof, figs ripe too fast or not
fast enough, willows drown out your sobbing,
but often there is a clearing, beyond the scattered boughs
you find a silent moment, swallow the sweet,
release the lilacs growing in the back of your throat

Aricka M. Foreman is a writer, performer and educator.  A Cave Canem fellow, she has been published in the The Drunken Boat  literary journal, Torch Poetry: A Journal for African American Women, Union Station Magazine, and Bestiary Magazine.  She is currently a writer-in-residence with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project and the YARTS Outreach program.  She lives in Detroit.

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