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Poetry

Has birth ever peeled you apart
Has birth ever hollowed you out
For I have seen a woman being transfigured
Into lips her water breaking like the first
Ocean spilling between the thighs of creation
And then between those lips her firstborn crowning
Like a tongue that dips to test the light and scalds
Have you waited in darkness
With nothing but water to breathe
Have you felt pain with anything you’ve made
Or do you drop these fish egg worlds black beads
In tide pools of vacuum to hatch for themselves

Do your teeth hurt when you taste sweetness
How about ice have you heard
Ice click against your teeth no what about
The time you let the Arctic drop out of
Your steaming mouth and bob a while and take
Does too much winter make your temples ache
Say do you know what a whip
Feels like no how about a whip of rain
The glaciers do the glaciers you drove north
And corralled in a lattice of locked water
They dream of the freedom to flow once again
The speed and freedom that you took from them
And throw their flanks at the Tropic of Cancer
Like an electric fence and stagger backward
Grasses fossils cities sticking to their soles

Have you dwelt in the house of the not
Yet born and have you paced its floor without
The benefit of footsteps could you handle
Not remembering a thing between creation
And your birthday could you sleep in that
Pitch perfect dark of not existing yet
And listen and listen unable to add to it
Even the sound of your breathing

Have you stood in the deafening rushes and witnessed migration
On the wing and known from this the cold was coming
Have you hidden your head in a hide not your own
Or shot a creature for its fur and muscle
We’ve fired the arrows and followed a thread
Of blood out of our hunger’s labyrinth
We who had clean hands once and did not need
To wash the fruit we picked or check its skin

Do you feel it down your left arm when your heart
Thirsts for blood and when it thirsts for friendship
Do you feel it in your throat and try to swallow
Does gravity wear on your posture
Does death creep over fields toward you like
The shadow of a white cloud flattening
The grasses it advances over tell me has
Desire ever stripped the stringy husk
Off of your mind and shown you still unripe

If I had been there when you measured out
The earth would you have made it more my size

Do you know how to work with a shovel
Is it graves or foundations you know how to dig
Could you tie me a tourniquet if I required one
How about shoelaces speaking of which
Do you have an idea what it’s like to trip
And fall when you do not expect it arms
Shooting out we double over like we’ve just
Been punched and thump a few steps forth
But we stay on our feet and if there is
A hand that catches us brushes us off
It is not yours

Speak if you have something more than wisdom
Speak if you have sympathy

Would you live with leviathan do you love
Those creatures more who do not stand upright
Were you proud when you filed his teeth
To points so sharp you wouldn’t risk a finger
And once you tacked the muscle to his jawbone
Did you grab the still slack snout and open shut
And open shut the maw and think to yourself
Ah this will teach the world what terror is

Do you who know all arts know how to hunger
You may not have that word it has to do
Only in part with the mouth and the stomach
Let me explain it we are little claws
That rake life back and forth like hands in water
Stirring mixing atoms of meat and leaf
Atoms of blood and sap commingling kingdoms
Beast eating plant beast eating beast
Bug eating plant plant eating sun bird eating bug
Beast tipping over in a grunt of risen dust
Bird falling with the small sound camouflaged
Among the raindrops bug snapped in mid dusk
By the tongue of the twilight
Plant withering stem geyser’s spray of leaves
Splashing to earth
So many crisscrossing hungers they darken the soil
Make it fertile make it hungry too for rain
Remodeling desert into wilderness

Who paved roads when they found themselves blocked off
From one another by the wilderness
Who bruised their heels against the wilderness
Who named it tasted every leaf of it at least once
Who remembered which was medicine and which
Was food and which was poison shuffled with
The rest its green no different to the eye
Who sawed and sanded it to crib and casket
And who did that to the wilderness Lord God

With nothing but hands


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