Creek bed: clear green
washes all stones
un-rough in smooth grip
when the light
spills and it is
mid-week, no one is aware
skins shed. Trees strip
slipping off garments
well-worn, hampers piled high
fallen secrets left
un-hidden. The afternoon
appears in front
of a hallow sky.
I follow the trail and cross
the fresh and fragile fungi,
which want to compete with
Our harvest sun
more like a god
cupped in cosmos.
Trains and an impatient phone, fast,
hum, unrelenting. And buzzard call
all drowned out in the rush
of an endless waterfall.
In that cradle of trees, leaves,
were sienna, golden, alight.
I witnessed the wind, how
softly it would rock the branches,
lullabies, from afar. The stream was
an eager audience in cleft earth,
its appraisal I longed to match.
Without judgement, without concern
without fear of flooding over.
I listened for a music I could
understand, like lyrics
the forest offered a chorus
of hidden wildlife, the mountain’s back
supporting them, loud enough to hear
not see. I tried to match the tone
but my voice froze each time
my mouth opened. I listened for
words I could catch, so many
falling leaves, heard the branches
drop their notes. In that cradle of
trees, I discovered I was part
of that rhythm, this piece was
composed long ago. I paused
and hoped to be baptised
for the trees to lift me up and
swaddle me in song,
then bring the evening home
letting the low stars dance with me.
Canta de mí Sangre | Song of my Blood
The day my Caribbean aunt
peered at me and said
you’re not Latina,
did I boil like arroz
or salted yucca, tough to resist?
A lifetime, I’ve paraded you-
your pulse, pumping beneath my olive skin,
I’ve been told you’re too high,
beta blockers to slow the flow
steal the rhythm of my step
see, the sun is red,
the streets are white and the veins blue
in other words, you were born here
and you’re different than us,
I swallow this large pill
diluting what flows through me.
Wash away my aunt’s words
who only cooks Colombian food
high in fat and carbs,
I eat it up hungrily,
attempting to digest enough
to return to my natural state.
Madré, your language is full of exotic sounds
With each sound you produce, I hear something else.
I am a part of you, and part
Of a place you’ll never be able to pronounce. In the kitchen
When you’ve shared that space with me,
Recipes are revealed like unsent letters from the past,
I ask, how, do you separate the plantain from its husk—
Have I missed something in translation?
Although it’s clear to you. But still I need to know
the secret behind the preparation, how you peeled it all away.
“Well,” you tell me, “swiftly, not to bruise the fruit.”
Tender, I stand next to you, unable to comprehend your actions.
Cover image ‘Ernst Haeckel’s Jellyfish’ via Public Domain Review
This is part of RHYTHM, a section of The Learned Pig devoted to exploring rhythm as individual and collective, as poetic and biological, and the ways that rhythm dictates life. RHYTHM is conceived and edited by Rachel Goldblatt.