when i entered the gates garments of rubble tinkled like bees in the houses of the people. i asked the first child i met what the dark flags were for. she told me the weavers had been making them for centuries, no one knew why. the second child i met, i asked where the singing originated, for i could discern no center or no chorus for this directionless sound. she told me, “in this village the stones of the houses sing.” i asked of the third child what magic material their lovely skirts and sandals were made to glisten so like gold in the sun and shade. she answered, “sadness never comes here, therefore our garments glow.” now, on the square the cows are resting, for it is noon. my feet are weary with questioning. i shed my clothes and enter the fountain. four immense stony swans spill water from their beaks. my skin soon sparkles crustaceously, every inch of flesh mounted with semi-precious stone and colourful shells. my voice becomes milk. i forget sadness and begin singing the names of the people, their ancestors and their childrens names. the inhabitants bring rubble from their kitchens, rubble from their bedrooms and baths, from their vegetable and flower gardens. this rubble is their spiritual and daily poverty, opaque and greenish. i take a clod and look through it. my skin is green. their eyes, green. the sky is green. green children gather green flowers and pile them in the marketplace. a green churning marches through my stomach, up my throat into clear green air. the green water of the fountain ripples around my ankles. i remember the warm green of trees, green meadows of larkspur, i see what is left of doubt and anxiety in this green despair transformed into rubble. i am waving like a black flag in green wind.
it all began empty snowwhite black velvet, an assault on the dark edges. the crickets howled at the house and the house lay secret and wanton. a gross bile echoed in the rooms. the rooms of toys the rooms of gingham and the rooms plastered with a child singing in the night his arms flung out the window into a southern inflated summer of crepe myrtle and violets’ wild laughing. wine plum cerise starlight flickered on my tiny feet shuffling to the window. a tiny narrow garden a garden of smoke a frightened and frightening garden shivering in its horrible aspect of sweet ambassadors hidden among flowers. and a voice whispered to me in the darkness, to the child of age, the child of woe whistling in the mirror, the darkeyed child, the secret child, the child alone, the childman leaning out the window.
“let your hair, barely bronzed naked tattooed in scarlet the marks where the act lives in joy, dies with better hope.”
and i knew, then, the being inside this ribbon of flesh, and i knew the ribbon stroking the darkness.
birth of the iris
(for we are but of yesterday and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow)
and the shadow enters me. enters the path of snapdragon in the center of my chest, the bronze being murmuring in my stomach, captivated by release, captivated by the body of pain.
i remember how the vast sun unpeeled its skin each winter like a lizard, the golden chiefs were given feathers of blue to hide their magic in . . . women of citrus gathered blossoms the moon gave them, soaking the petals for oils. the sleek triumph of a man’s body, insistent, allowing, transparent as tiger lilies whose blossoms last only an hour in the jar, married in water, divorced from it, shimmering evaporate. my skin moults in a jar, leaving a residue of fragrance and blood, residue of light boiling in the bowl. and death strides through my belly, awakening the mum odor of silence, a vast unbreakable silence pure as granite thick as noon snow.
as I turn, a face uplifts it fisheyes from the snow. quietly the thick white rain settles on my shoulders. alone with the moon, my ointments into the streets, leaning forever against the dragonwings of the sun baroque glinting.