Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Negative space (A cadralor)

Near Ernst tinaja, Big Bend National Park,
photo by Geoff Gallice, 2011

Drawing a nude model (oh no not
naked, we say “nude” and I never
thought to ask why) I was taught
to seek the open spaces—as one
example, the soft triangle made by
the inner elbow and bottom of the
rib cage, arms akimbo. We called
it “negative space,” a way of seeing
that’d flatten a whole person, turn
them into an object, the openings
around their life fixed in place like
butterflies pinned by this gestural,
analytical thinking that empties me.

I didn’t much care for exploring
the steep sandstone ravines near
our campsite; too much risk a storm
miles off would bring flash floods,
trap us there. (I have some fear
of drowning, even in the desert.)

Your cupped hands create a tinaja for
the rainfall that fell from the faucet. The
blessing of plumbing, of brazing to join
the pipes; astonishment at your body’s
everyday movement and ease, its grace.
Is it any wonder I love watching you as
you bend towards the sink, set the water
flowing, palms held to receive that gift?

The joy of this world—there are no empty
places, everything is full of energy and life—
is equally its horror.
The biome of the gut,
the hollow tube that pierces us. Archipelagos
where the most violent exchanges occur at
microscopic scale, whose tiny denizens first
preserve us, and then, at last, consume us.

There’s a shallow valley on the bed
that’s still warm, where the sunlight’s
pooling, where your presence is felt
in absence. It’s spring, now, it won’t
be long before the bumblebees lose
their balance, tumbling down off the
flowering currant. The way I lose my
balance, tipsy on all this sweetness.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Passage (A cadralor)

From here; photographer and date unknown

Summer heat, a distant memory at the end
of March in Portland. And even further back,
the desiccation of Phoenix. I’d wake to rust
on my pillow from nosebleeds; lips cracking,
stinging from sweat as I tried to restart the car.
Both of us overheated, stalled from vapor lock.

Learning Spanish. The verb “to drink,” beber,
a softening edge to the “b” through my breath,
voicing sound through the narrowest opening—
a turbulent flow. Scrying my future, when will
thirst drive me to rummage through ALL my
lost words, surprising myself when I produce

Quiero bebo as if from a magician’s pocket?

The sadness sits within my chest and purrs.
It weighs more than my heart, than Ma’at’s
feather of truth, and in this way I know my
restlessness is a marker of the danger I’m
in. At any unlucky moment, Ammit could
gobble it up: my pulsing, chambered soul.

If I had a pocket knife, I’d play mumblety-peg.
If I had a pocket knife, I’d whittle up a whistle.
If I had a pocket knife, I’d need to cut a switch.
I threw away my pocket knife, tossed it in the
river where it sank like a stone, fresh blood
on the blade calling a flathead catfish close.

The path is broken chert, the silver thread of
a creek shallow enough to wade. The path’s
that faint scar on the palm of your left hand,
cut while chopping onions. What I’d wish for
is safe passage; what I have is anything but.