Pre-poem: a primer.
When I say
room I mean this space that contains me.
When I say
this space that contains me I mean I fill this space.
When I say
I fill this space I mean this space is my body.
When I say I am in this space I mean this space is my body
I fill it, it fills me, I am the space and it is me, our co-terminality
wavering and watery at the edges.
please be mindful of what your voice touches: you are speaking
within my body; as I am within yours.
‘I mean river as a verb.’
Natalie Diaz, “The First Water is the Body,” Postcolonial Love Poem.
I watch, from my room on the third floor,
as partygoers climb through the window opposite mine. They sound joyous,
burping sharp laughter onto the trampled myrtle
blossoms. Can they hear me,
singing along to their music? I wonder,
when I strip off a floral dress, if they shake
their heads at my dimpling belly; if they smile, wry, as I do,
at the pink leopard-print thong I bought at a Target,
on accident. When I am naked,
can they see the scar lines on my legs?
I have filled my life with flowers.
In the stairwell singing, How am I supposed to be
healed? to “Orange Blossoms”, a stranger
compliments my voice, another my lily
shirt, simple cotton. I read a poem, “Calyx”,
the other day. I wrote a poem to a Ruysch
bouquet the other day. I read a line in a poem,
his name for me is a flower: Hyacinth, / a final pink
breath. I sent him a picture. I read a poem
about an abortion the other day. I saw a still-life,
a pail of roses and
a mayfly, too. I wish I could have a baby.
My favorite pair of shoes has carnations on them,
or peonies, maybe.
I. Pair of shoes
When my room becomes too silent,
I lace up my running shoes and step from the chamber.
(Remember what is my body and see how I change.) I run
to the trail, to feel the sun, the wind. When I see the water,
I want to strip the clothes from my body, and dive
and swim the stream until I must scoop myself back
onto shore. My feet still in my shoes—I was too much in need
to remove them—I must unlace carefully, water-logged
as they are. My worked fingers, prunish,
open to the sky and unfold like leaves. (This, too, is writing
a poem in which I desire you.) Freely, like a crack of wildfire
taking to the riverside trees, I throw myself at the earth, fevered
until my ribs break out in roots and branches, reaching
for deeper mud and soil: my bones need a noisy arbor.
I count these moments I spend
thinking of you by chewing
a dried persimmon: 1, 2,
3— (slowly.) the flesh is sweet
and tough. 4, 5, 6,
“How am I supposed to be healed?” is a lyric from “Orange Blossoms” by Half Waif.
“Flower II, Calyx” is a poem by Sun Yung Shin.
Rachel Ruysch is a Dutch Golden Age painter of many still-lifes of flowers (and insects!).
“his name for me is a flower: Hyacinth, / a final pink breath.” is a line from “Alternatives for a Celibate Daughter” by Thylias Moss (Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman).
*”strip the clothes from my body” is a lyric from “Midnight Asks” by Half Waif.
*”lace up my running shoes” draws on “Lacing up my / tennis shoes in front of you feels more intimate than I intended”, lines from ’23 Isabella Pu’s incredible “Autumn diptych”.
*uncredited in poem