What is to be done

The curtains have gone, has the show begun, or just ended?
Staring into the mirror and asking if you had met before, so hard to understand, I can’t describe the reflection once it leaves me and it changes every once in a while, everything seems farther away no matter what.
A search for ladybirds means that there will be none to populate my hands, an aimless stroll and there will be tickles down my neck.
Where have they all gone, I did not seem to find them anymore.
Catch them to set them free, why, because it makes me happy.
Nocturnalized, adapted to avoid the dreamy clasp, the name of the Game.
In the name of self-care, but they have villainized selfishness.
On hotter nights, a head sprouted out of the window drawn by the flashlight of a night-shift employee, joins the solemn dance that echoes the stars.
We have taken something and made it into something else and this may never stop. I knew because it came to my head.
No fussy, self-absorbed flower bed to catch me, only wild, sturdy sprouts, it was a question of preference.
Preference meant alternatives.
But they have all gone!
Present although I could not reach them, does it matter that they were there, not so much.
If only I understood the ladybird’s cries, were they saying those words that I must have skimmed before, “only let go of our hands, don’t clutch at us…”
What does it mean anyway, he writes and I had been thinking of something else.
In lieu of a solution, an elaboration of a bunch of things that have been labelled an issue.
A slow build and I fought to care where it was heading.

 

Artwork by Joan Mitchell, “Ladybug” 1957.

bird by bird

i am a poet first
before a flute player.
but sometimes my head is so full of branches
obscuring the sky
that i cannot hear anything.

15 with a pen and paper
writing the last note to only note that
it would be my last –
i put my fingers to my neck and
listened.

the pulse rocked me back and forth: i
swung as a baby in the cradle
gurgled an affirmation of life
dribbling out the mouth like powdered milk
hope.

boy didn’t love me back so i
listened to prokofiev
realised i could fit myself into that howl
of love rising from the violin string
so full and keening for touch.
a lone wolf emerges from hibernation in
my chest cavity,
hold on to my wrist and
crumple over – forget any boy and return
to the rush
of blood from heart to
heart.

too young when i watched my mother
let the wolf eat her alive
she penned down what it felt like
as if all her insides burnt at once
the friction of losing hope a whip belt chafing
on her will – i read it and cried
but what i remember most
is the wolf consuming her
then
becoming her
and as one, they howled
the torturous cry of giving up.

run towards the sea when it is near
because i know it will sing to me.
rock back and forth and i will be
a sweet naked baby in its cot the steady
lullaby reminding me of strength, how easy it is
to be pulled
into the waves
and i will cry, letting my tonsils spill
all the broken glass swallowed.
let my howl merge with the tide-song
in a love story where they are made for each other –
once again breathing
in and out. in and out.
and the wolf lies sound asleep.

wind on the leaves is a curious jazz
open my windows and coo to me.
this is how i stroke the wolf, brush its fur and
nurse with tenderness.
the wolf and i are friends.
sometimes he gets angry and claws at me
and i know because my heart
beats
into its undoing
and the oddness of the music echoes through my organs
sick, with eyes wet
put the wolf to sleep again
realign my bones and shrink into the corner
transform into a bird on its shoulder
open my small croaking mouth to
sing
and let us both free
for a little while.

so if we are ever to know what
lays out the sky canvas for us this god
cannot be written or spoken to
i think
but only heard,
sometimes.

 

Image from “Cranes in the Sky” music video, performed by Solange Knowles, directed by Alan Ferguson and Solange Knowles

lotion

knot by knot go
up the wall
your spinal
tap
into your feelings
little
girl the
water’s hot
your skin so dainty
fainting
hard
so very hard this
question
on the paper
drawing lines
upon your head
upon your wrist
so very thin
and you are not
encircling your waist
it chafes
the feeling on the phone
when you’re alone
your love is floating
in a satellite
your words are roaming
in the page
it is so grey
the color of your brain
sublime machine
cogs and tendons
things that break
you are awake
again so late so late so
light this blanket
heavy
on the eyes
the melancholy
of somebody’s
absence
is the kind
-est thing there is
nothing more
and more is said it
never ends
this poem a rub
for smoothening
the aches and kinks
like oil and lotion
slick and skidding
off the rails
i’m off again.

 

Painting by Mariella Angela, “2 Pac”