Thin Traces

thintraces

Thin traces
of tracks
not yet laid
like invisible lines
or a long thread,
golden and white
running through,
held at either
end, at once taut
and loose,
swayed and buoyed
by forces
of love and
time, like a guide
that beckons
from a past
into a future,
mouthing your name
in sand
or rocks
or steel,
a formless form
that winds its way
to make a track
or make a life,
both,
yet to be
laid
down.

Forget everything

red zone river

(Image: Iain McGregor)

 

The land was empty,
alone,
bereft of the world
that once occupied her,
was she mourning
for the lost sounds
of children’s
hearts and feet,
pounding to the beat
of their laughter, lives
and freedom?

A no-man’s land,
mile after mile of barren
green, of do-not-enter, no
unauthorized access, of long,
stripped harakeke clumps
and a naked river
that mends its way along
cracked roads
and blocked off streets
with names
that used to belong
on google maps,
but now when you look
all it says is
forget everything.

Forget what breathed
and flourished here,
the barking dogs and
sleeping cats, the
gossiping neighbours
and lifelong friends
sharing food
and love and stories,
their water, porta-loos
and their breaking, aching
exhausted hearts.

Forget how the earth
shook and cracked
and ripped apart,
once, twice and
5000 more times until
you can forget
no longer, for the shaking
earth lives here
in your bones now.

Her core is buried deep
in yours, like a ghost
and a vampire, she haunts
your nights, and treads
lightly through your days,
at your side, ready to pounce
and steal
your breath,
when your children are too far
and the building is too high,
and there are too many
people between you
and the exits and in this
new city there are too many
buildings that could come down
and even though
the shaking ground
was only a bus rumbling
past, your body will
never forget. And you wonder,
you wonder,

is this what it means
to grow up
and out and in and
through, to be pierced
by loss and life so that
your body is marked
by the world,
holds and becomes the world
and it is all the same,
the world and you,
maybe there was never meant to be any
forgetting,
maybe that
is the whole point?

Post-script

blue-1326154_640

I want to be blunter, sharper,
hotter. To provoke,
to burn, to sear your
insides with words.

I want to stop
bargaining, with
God, the archangels,
and the universe (I want
to know where
to put my faith
and rest there, as if
I were already
in heaven).

I want to stop
offering to be better,
kinder, and more loving
to my body, in return
for a benign
biopsy result, as if
rewards only come
to those who live
the worthiest of lives.

I want to stop
trying to trace a line
from A to B,
mark out a trail and
follow the breadcrumbs
as if finding an X
will lead to the gold-
en cure or somehow,
at least,
give reason to the
reasonless, the random and
the inexplicable.

Like, maybe, I haven’t
eaten enough green and diverse
fruits and vegetables, or done
enough cardio exercise that
really got my heart rate up,
or maybe I spent too many years
smoking menthol cigarettes
and losing my mind
in alcohol infused binges,
or is it because
I stressed too much,
worked too hard,
and drank in pain
like I was swallowing
water. Or maybe I just
waited too long to
have my babies,
and spent too long
holding anger, instead,
so finally it found a spot
to set up permanent home,
in my breast. Or maybe,
I kept too many ‘bad’ secrets
that weren’t mine
to keep, or maybe
I just never
loved myself enough.

Or maybe, it’s like
my nine year old son,
the oldest, and sweetest,
poet I know,
just said,
‘why do people
have to die, it’s so unfair
and so easy, you could
get hit by a car
or a bus, or a
missile.’

(Post-script: it was benign)

Lost and Found

lostandfound

The light turns,
I gently press my
foot to the metal
and pull away on
automatic pilot.
Moments pass as if
I’m in one
of those movies where
time has paused, and
I am the only one
continuing on
against a silent backdrop
of animated stillness.
I am abruptly returned
to the intersection
of my body’s
beating heart,
to time and space
colliding in the rush hour
of my mind. Relief
ensues, I slip into
the forward flow, where
my mind can return
to dissociating
from my body,
to making mess
and making mud
and making room
for endless mazes
with no way out
for zig-zag crossings
that miss the point,
for winding roads in
the dead of night,
where getting lost
and being found
face each other on
silent grass verges,
vying to become
the next
place of rest.

Revolution

Girls can do anything,
they said,
on A4 posters slung
around old
’80s classrooms
seducing our eager bodies
into believing
we were invincible.

You can have it all
they said
with their ’80s shoulder pads
broadening their
edges,
slimming their bottom
lines, making out
like those who
ruled the world.

Can you come
to camp, they said,
on this school trip, what’s
for dinner, did you sign
my form, make my lunch,
find my shoes, love
me unconditionally?

Did you answer
those emails, pay
those bills, mark
those assignments, work
your 40 plus hours, but don’t
switch off your email,
ever,
they said.

How come, they say,
you’re so busy
out of breath
tired
grumpy
exhausted
unhappy
crying in the bathtub
beyond
the edge of reason?

Why don’t you just
get more sleep
take a day off
start a fitness regime
drink green smoothies
do more yoga
work less, do less, stress less,
they say,

as if they somehow knew,
but didn’t really
know at all, that the
not so secret answer
to breaking
that grim and gritty grasp
of capitalism,
lay in and around
the collective
curves and contours,
of that fierce and aching
body
of all the world’s
women.

#diveintopoetry  with jenaschwartz.com

in excess

a desiring bodysplashing-164355_960_720
plagued
by external signs
and significations
for how and what
it should do-be-say

capable, competent, unique
nurturing, nourishing, giving
productive, reproductive
capable of producing
and reproducing
more exceptional creatures

an ever-present desire
to eclipse it all
to break free
defy the boundaries, categorizations,
that attempt to fix, lodge,
define
but, that enable her
to do-be what instead?

become undefined?
unmoored from:
normal, successful, useful, meaningful
words that tell her
how to live
a good life?
a slight easing arrives in her body
being-becoming ‘undefined’
indefinable

but be careful
not to substitute one category
for another
not to give up those descriptions
only to search out alternate ones

stay here
linger a while
in the indeterminable
unnameable, indefinable.
unmarked

in a place
without inscription
on the body
marking out how one, or other
should be, behave

a place
where she defines
how she exists
unnamed, expansive
moving, mobile
unmoored
unencumbered
unrestricted

she speaks
from a body’s desires, without
being marked
as different
not fitting the taxon
not good enough
not correct

because, not fitting
is always in relation to Other,
an Other who is always better.
now, there is no hierarchy
difference is the ‘norm’
in these, always, multiple
moving, subject positions

good enough is nowhere
all there is here.
the beauty of here, and there
that resists any kind of categorization
of fixed naming
of fixed positioning
of fixity

Instead, a fluidity
an always-in-relation
a situated in-between-ness
of past-present-futures.
full of possibility and potentialities
for redeployment
for eclipsing the structures, histories, and stories
that attempt to fix her
in place

fixed, stuck, frozen,
limited, restricted, reduced,
does a naming always limit?
(or, can there be power in it, too?)
or only in resisting the power
of the Other to name?

to be unnamed, outside of
discourse, beyond
is that possible?
to instead see, look
for escape, lines of flight,
places of eclipse

in naming the discourse
losing the clichés
speaking from the body
embodied writing, instead
a transformative escape into
that indefinable space
if only for a moment

no longer fixed, fixable.
an embodied fluidity
a body without organs

no longer
stuck
literally and figuratively.

no longer
defined, pathologised and fixed.
instead, categories are loosened
marks are erased
ropes are untied

she becomes
mobile
leaking, in excess.
they can no longer name her
reduce her or
mark her as being
one thing
and not another

she is always in excess
of their naming
what is less can be more and
what is more can be less.
she is always
in excess.

’til the cows come home

It has been some time (2 years!) since I have posted on this blog and I thought it might be fun to begin again, as I’m sure many lapsed bloggers do at this time of year.  Hello again to anyone who might still be out there, at the other end of this post. I hope this finds you well and still enjoying poetry :)  This piece was inspired during a 2 week online writing group with the supreme writing promptress and beautiful poet, Jena Schwartz.

path fairy lights

image from theberry.com

 

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