Barbara Jane P. Reyes Oct 10, 2008 16:00:58 GMT 2
Post by thepoetslizard on Oct 10, 2008 16:00:58 GMT 2
Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, Philippines, and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003) and Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2005), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. Her third book, entitled Diwata, is forthcoming from BOA Editions, Ltd. in 2010.
"A Genesis of We, Cleaved"
In the beginning, a man of dust and fire became bone, and viscera, and flesh. The deity of the wind blessed his lips and he came to take his first breath. Within this strange vessel, I opened my eyes, and within this, your darkness, I learned to weave song. Do you remember me fluttering inside your chest, tickled by the cool air newly filling your lungs. Do you remember exhaling song on this first day.
On the second day, the unseen hand from above cleaved you in two, exacting penance for our joy as you awakened from the deepest, most delicious dreaming. On the second day, my love, I was torn from the haven of your blood, the cradle of your flesh and tendons. A smarting wound strewn across our garden’s sweet grasses, I lay raw and aching. On this second day, my hands and feet learned the relentlessness of cold.
On the third day, I found river, and plunged the wisp of my body into its current. As I learned to breathe without you, as I mimicked the river’s lullaby, you appeared upon its banks, your body so fissured, your eyes the ravaged jewels of an umber earth. There were no words for the sorrow bolting through me then, as I watched your hands touch the scarring place where I began. On this third day, my mirror, we learned lamentation, and shadow.
On the fourth day, I sang a dirge, and the river was my harmony. From afar, you watched me, as the unseen hand from above offered you reparations for your brokenness. More than anything, I thirsted to embrace you in our ocean, for its saltwater to heal us both. But my mirror, the memory of your darkness welled up inside me every time I drew near. On this fourth day, I learned to weep. On this fourth day, the scars hardened over your heart.
On the fifth day, I dreamed a conflagration, the birth of suns and thunder. I dreamed this garden, reduced to ash. I dreamed that from loss, we began again, a we that knew only of being whole, of sharing heart, and breath, and salt. A feast of we, luminous as the secret of fruit and seed. A we impervious to cleaving, to fracture. On this fifth day, I opened my eyes and I came to know of hope.
On the sixth day, I came to you, and told you of this dream. I touched your scars. You whispered a prayer. I gave you my secrets. You gave me your words. I asked for your breath. You gave me your seed. And as our bodies folded into each other, we dreamed the same honeyed light. Upon awakening, you named me for the morning. But on this sixth day, the unseen hand from above wrested you from me, cleaved us in two once again, and weighted the heaviest sorrow upon me. Never once did he show himself.
On the seventh day, my love, I surrendered.
“A Genesis of We, Cleaved,” was previously published in The Drunken Boat.
Let the man who cannot dream be a condemned man. Who comes here but shadows of ourselves, where smoke seeps into plush velvet the color of lipstick, of juice and blood. This place is my dreamweaving, its iron sculptures, framed in light. Flickering chandeliers’ fake fire. Still, wax melts and curls around my feet. The tables here are scratched brass, carved with names and regrets. You who regret, that is who you become. And you who need, but do not know why you need, and why you need from me, your need opens something in me which knows to anticipate dread. I anticipate your reprimand, and worse yet, I anticipate your promise. Tell me then, as if I knew no words, tell me why it is you have created me to dread you.
Were I to assign us color, we would be mood ring, and then I would understand how heat and pressure make us glow bright crimson in our faux gold casing, how blood makes us aquamarine, oceanic and unfathomed. Think of your pulse, beneath an undulating mirror of sky, think of salt crystallizing upon thighs and hands and lips, feathery seagrass tickling the soles of our feet. How even the coolest freshwater springs are momentary, dissipating. How moonless winters and sunrises can be taken hostage, and then how nothing touches you. How this causes you to forget you are standing. Perhaps you are drowning, for you cannot feel your lungs. Even the sky refuses to give its light to you, you, who have forgotten how to breathe.
Tell me how it is your body sustains itself, how your ribcage is beyond bursting, yet you still walk one foot in front of the next, counting and naming, counting and naming. How are these words still foreign sounds to you. How is it your skin still warms you, your pupils still responding to movement. You who are a living shadow, a mountain echo, tell me how you can possibly need, and how you can possibly need from me.
Were I to assign you color, you would be opaque, a fine slice of opal beneath the moon’s veil. Were I to touch you, you’d shatter, and then crumble into jasmine scented powder. I would gather you beneath my fingernails, dust my love lines with you. Lover, I would break you. Lover, I will break you. Let there be the veil then, embroidered with flowers from my dreams, petals resembling moths and serpents, leaves like clouds and unnamable desires. Let me always glance at empty doorways, knowing the movements beyond these are you drawing near.
Let this be the natural law — Lover, I will break you and compose a symphony with your bones. Of what remains, I shall grind into dust and mix with the rain. Lover, do not come near, for I see story in your broken parts. Lover, do not promise, for when you do, I come to loathe words. Lover, do not speak, for what you say is vapor.
So here have I become the morning, and this is why water, and why jeweled skies, and why the night, and how it is that silver makes song. Lover, did you not know I wrote my own creation story? Did you not know, we all do.
“Eve Speaks,” was previously published in Action Yes.
O Diwata, let rainbows arc and sprout from the base of my tongue and into your cupped palms, before the saltwater fishponds teem quicksilver, azure, and sunrise hues, before the aqueducts and irrigation ditches are sculpted into damp earth, before these mango groves are hewn, before these gravel paths ripen with fallen fruit. Before we part, O Diwata, breathe your song into me.
Remain by my side as wind deity, as word, as eyes bright with both dusk and amber. Remain with me so that we may keep vigil, both of us before morning’s honeyed light filters through fire escapes. In our vigil, let there be only witness, and I will offer you stillness rising into unfettered dawn. Here I will weave a dreaming of lovemaking bodies’ fire and salt. Here, I will teach your hands to weave crescent moon into ocean current, serpent hiss into river’s rush. Here I shall weave a selvedge of we.
O Diwata, ever shall there be a we, a ceaseless, insistent we, the fiercest we, bound only to the knowledge of scars upon my flesh, and the segment of my spine which aches to sprout wings. Deep within lightless dovecotes, this we shall remember the lamentation of songbirds as it remembers the lingering warmth of your retreating form. Ever shall this we know how tender, your flesh at the throat, how the most fecund black loam of your scent sates me.
“Eve’s Aubade” was previously published in Boxcar Poetry Review.