maps and legends
(for Miriam)Does it hurt? Of course it hurts. Knowing I am going away past the sharp edge of the world, she knows we need magic, we need magic stronger than words, since just words cannot save us. I follow her to the place where the machines hum and draw blood since we need strong magic, need to rip the skin, let blood, and change the body for life, so it knows. This is where the journey begins. We follow royalty there, we follow gangs there, we follow brides-to-be there, we follow prisoners there, we follow thieves and sailors there. We walk through the open door and look for what we need. This is where the journey begins. I leave now, or I will not be gone for months, or I will never leave. Does it hurt? Of course it hurts. Home is where the heart is or home is where the body is. I travel light. I never let go of her hand, home. She is my heart. We walk through the open door and look for what we need. Beyond the edge of the world, there are dragons. Their pictures are on the wall, like WANTED posters. WANTED: what we need. I am already more woman than girl, so there is no need to slit open my chin, mark the equator. No need for love charms, no pierced hearts, no roses. No stars, one for each year behind bars, no barbed wire for an imprisoned life. Not the pig and the rooster, to keep me from drowning, nor the legend H-O-L-D-F-A-S-T — there will be no ropes where I go. Serious magic: when you bride the machine, you can never go back, even after death: This is where the body was found, before the edge, before the dragons. This is how they know the body: White female, 5'11", 160 pounds. Identifying marks: Even after days in the water, death knows you by your magic: the water swelling the body, the body more water than blood or bone, and still the body speaks after death, says: Blood, North, South, Sailor, Thief, King, Queen, Ace. The Spade brings luck, as does the dice. But we need more than luck. Protection is more than luck. There are dragons past the edge. I never let go of her hand. Birds know magic like they know home. Their hearts beat too fast for land and carry them into the air, beat, beat, a signal on a drum or a trumpet, a knocking or strong pulsation, beat, my heart, her, beat a tattoo into my ribs. My heart is in my mouth. I swallow. Birds know magic like they know home, where the swallows return every year without fail, and begin rebuilding. The machine builds its bride, rips into the skin. You can never go back. We tell the man: swallows, we need swallows. He nods. He knows. He crosses me over the equator, the line between, over the edge, there are dragons out there. He nods and says, “where?” Place is everything. Either you are home, or you are not. Either you are on one side of the equator, or the other. Either you are safe, or. She speaks. “On her hands. Protect her hands, so that nothing falls through them.” He nods. “On her heart. Protect her heart, so nothing can hurt there.” He nods again, slowly, the machine purrs harder, waiting. “On her throat, so nothing can stop her voice when she needs it, on her legs, so nothing can keep her from running, on her head, so—” —so she sings the song of the machine and the machine sings my blood and swallows, my hands, my heart, the swallows will bring me home when it is time to rebuild; place is everything, you can never go back. There are dragons out there. We walk through the open door. Out on the edge, this is where the body was found, where the journey begins: I am sailor, thief, queen. I am home. I am only girl in the spaces between powerful magic, what swallows bring in their mouths to nest with. Their hearts beat too fast to keep them on the earth, does it hurt? Her heart beats a tattoo into my ribs, blood, of course it hurts, and every year, WANTED, the swallows return home. H-O-L-D-F-A-S-T: On this journey, I never let go of her hand.
anne's neck(for Anne Marbury Hutchinson, excommunicated, and exiled
in 1637 from Massachusetts Bay Colony)It is not my voice, but God's.
The first time,
He swings my mouth open
like the church door in a monsoon.
It takes both hands pressed
under my jawbone
to close it.
The second time, not even
my husband's hands
can stop my teeth's chattering.
Syllables fall, hard fast hail
on my frightened children.
He is practicing. Suddenly,
I am His book of scripture, flipped open.
Words stumble off my tongue
until the covers slap together again.
My children clamber for cover,
cover their mouths at night,
save the youngest, who speaks my babble back to me.
I tell God He has gone too far,
holding His seminars in my living room.
He brings the women. Then their men.
God scoffs. "This is living," He says,
and raises my arms high.
"Hallelujah!" we cry.
God loves the attention.
This is not proper, I tell God.
"Don't tell God what to do," He says,
and throws me on the ground.
I grow thick with child.
When the elders call me to trial,
He is nowhere to be found.
It is my baby and I alone who crunch
five miles through the snow.
God, you will get us all killed, I whisper.
He doesn't answer.
After two days on the witness stand,
He leaps from my mouth
to threaten the men of the town.
He debates them on His scripture,
grandstanding His knowledge before them.
I crumble back in my chair when His will be done.
"You sound like a man," the elders say.
Not my voice but God's, I tell them.
"Cast out proud Jezebel," says the town.
The ice burns my feet like sin.
I fall and fall, trail my scatter of children
When I cast my body into the snow,
God uprights me over and over,
places my feet one in front of the other,
We stop, sudden as comfort.
Where are we? I ask him.
He laughs, knocks my children to the ground.
His voice tightens on me like a noose.
"You'll love it," he says.
"I've named it Anne's Neck."
Break it down. It is essential to read the social text at the time of the industrial revolution Dishes again. Civilization, ergo the society, ergo dishes and the family. The bubbles in the sink, my hands, sink below the surface. There’s more there. As hearthkeeper, the woman is the axis everything revolves around my hands to the smallest unit of society and reflect the light, the ceiling, everything around me,thus becomes emblematic of civilization in the bubbles in the sink, the word bubble, the lobes, the bubbles are in the Bs, the folly of the e, tongues make no mistakes thus, when man self-exiles into nature, it is women the o of the world which he is eschewing; in sweeping, the joy of collecting small worlds, a full-frontal assault on even the smallest dust mote contains the world the cult all the worlds of true womanhood I know and the permissible gathered together roles of women by my hands through their inscription scattered into the light by men anything is possible.
speak truth?(because Sojourner Truth's speeches only exist as transcriptions)Her words are not her words. Truth cannot move through translation, so what is it that comes back? She never returns, she was all breath or a body: "Wall, chilern, (The wall, children, war der is so much racket in whom it so much gives there, dar must be somethin' must be slightly more kilter out o' kilter. I tink dat outside. I think this one 'twixt de niggers of de Souf those betwixt niggers South and de womin at de Norf and the women at North, all talkin' 'bout rights all the rights seizing the white man, de white man will be the white man am rather soon will be in a fix pretty soon embarrassing. But what's all dis here But what is the end of this one talkin' bout?" here talking?) What is the end of this one here talking? We destroyed it at the language. To be written: if it could not be written? The woman becomes internal message. It (not she) uncovers its (not her) center, and everything that they saw was normal (Sojourner's breast is invisible once again, not seen, a myth, a screen. She's not black in words. Only the page is white here.) The action is politic elision. The landscape is judgement. To be like, it could not be written? The woman transforms the inner message. She's said. That's what she said. We never heard her at all.
I - Writing Inside the Motherskin
II - In the Kafka Labyrinths
III - Opening the Lid of Night
IV - Archeology
Current Issue - Winter 2002