We are almost there, I tell the women in my backseat making love — flexing
in endearing poses, their swelling tides returning to the destined returns
of each other’s soppy joy, a cyclical matter of wet exuberance.
The designated driver– they are in my hands;
two sticky lavender-scented chapsticks melting at the chase of my palms.
I can still smell them there many evolutions later.
As a spill of butter — this is how I want to be remembered. Warm & thick. Absolved
of my fluid response to anyone’s ability to churn me out.
Would you believe my first real conversation was with my own soiled hands? Me praying the landscape of my irrigated memory–
finding, between my legs, a river of suns escaping the damned and darkness of my body.
Is how I know I am from the lake,
a dog of the ocean. I adore the sound of myself lapping
the lapping of myself– in an unending ritual
of salutation and praise for the tangible chaos
I still wear like galaxies in the blessed black warmth of my skin.
A natural fault line I am always coming apart
under the bridge of night and the swift accrual of heat.
Excised in the open mouth of the corrugated expanse,
we women are the kind that live
in the closets of the coyote willows.
A league of desirables marched from border to border;
our bodies stripped of the rumor some call human decency.
Whether from the beaches of Benin or the patches of light in Juarez–
we march until the desert hollers us down.
Once, I was a woman.
Am now an arc, a memory of exactly where my sisters sank
beneath the ruins of their former selves; a cloud of unclasped bras & empty pockets; our husked love
entangled in the cottonwood branches of the Chihuahuan Desert. From the edge, we surge north listening to each other drip
in the silence of the land between; my sisters & I sliding
up against the tilted walls of the highway. Coins in the other’s pockets, we are
mutable shades sharing the invaluable.
And the more suns we swallow, the more sons try to swallow us.
I was a woman.
Am now an arc remembering exactly where my sisters & I sank
beneath the ruins of ourselves — the loam of our desiccated & unforgiving fatigue
freshly wet with the memories of our first loves, a cloudless mirror
filled with unclasped bras and empty pockets.
We surge through south//southwest//
listening to each other bleed
in the silence of the land
My family drove from the clogged skylines of California to the gates of my father’s Eden in Texas. His heaven — a continent’s worth of dirt and dark potential: a heap of dead wood, dirt, snakes, rabbits, and dogs
with gums that glitter pink in the face of silence.
I dreamed the road turned river and I floated as one of four spare tires in the backseat of my momma’s whirring machine.
My momma hadn’t liked my cousins teaching me to rotate my hips with my hands in California; round my back when bent over the stairs with my little nasty ass kicking like an engine in the air. Pop! Pop!
She said That's how
That's how you become
I have always been a burden of hours. The flesh-dense memory of my mother’s ichor, I was always the language of lost time. A percolating wound driving through some state or another in search of– +
Asleep, I floated away from the shivering concrete of California, the state where I was
originally manufactured in a city too strung out on murky neon & pasteurized prisoners. Where thieves and killers and pot-smoking dogs
lived in cages tall and wide as state-owned buildings downtown. Where I learned to load a magazine clip before I learned
to borrow sugar.
We left and I knew leaving meant no cages for me but still– I slept through the first part of the drive.
I slept through the sound of the other factories I knew were being excised;
Their steel frames uprooted & moved
in the dark --- into the open mouth
of the desert --- their candy-soft frames
easily dying under the coyote willow.
When I did finally wake, I was in a belly
of blue yonder, my body gliding
the tall slate walls of Arizona
and her wide-hipped mountains.
I wasn't supposed to know --- but I knew
THAT was what love felt like:
in the noise of modern industry;
an untested azure
thanking the petroleum that slides through it
by holding it in its mouth--
before graciously swallowing;
is the sun's underestimated static
imbedding itself into my rib--
my melanin: a patchwork of time.
The only other kinds of factories that know what it is to be excised
in the open mouth of the desert
are the kind that live under the coyote willow. The kind that will eat out a poem
before they are dragged back
into a snake pit.
Sometimes, they put the detention centers
far back from the highway
in the back
like the eggs in Walmart they want you to buy
but the land.
The first boy I feel anything for kisses my sister under a lemon tree. The next boy I feel anything for kisses me on the cheek but never walks me home again. The next boy I feel anything for vomits on my shoes and never says my name again. The next boy I feel anything for again.
The next feel for home
falls, laughing, through my front door.
Takes me to twilight
--a glass sky-stained lavender--
tapes a skateboard to my feet
and teaches me how to glide.
In the Hays County Jail, there is only one window and it is the same size as the cheap, worn mystery novel I pick up from the book cart the third day. For weeks, I forget what the sun feels like. I forget I was once loved. I forget affection. I pray into a yellow legal pad. I pray into stupid Christian pamphlets. I pray into a steel bed. I pray into my one glass of pasteurized milk or orange juice. I am still praying when I look up at the worn tv perpetually floating above our pod, to see a wolf’s face leaping across the screen on channel 8. A vortex in the static, he dances, his body swiftly looping around something unmoving. I don’t see what he is dancing around because I am crying at all the green on the ground. When was the last time I had green? That day, they take us, single file, out onto a half-court. Someone grabs the mostly dead basketball. Others start pacing around the box. I slip into poems, soothe myself by muttering rhythmic soliloquies and old photos of myself fall out of my mouth, into my hands.
When I am finally released, I make it as far
as the gas station a half-a-block away before ripping stitch.
I stand out in the open, suffocating, drowning in the Texas sun –a rattlesnake with no timber, no nest, no eggs, and no good meat.
To my father, we — I am an endemic of love.
The day’s heat — my love. The bark scorpion — my love. The gap between the borders — our love.
We --- I am
more than this love.
A saguaro of love.
Whatever my father could have been --- it lives in us-me.
I have got the burden of them both in my body. We were born like this. A glaze of unbiased binaries. A crocheted concoction of womxn. Pulling on whatever it was he was before us.
A breed of immaculate violence a womxn evaporating in the swell of yet another of this country’s greedy nights.
We --- I am the child of a dog: the progeny of a monsoon: a fetish of unadulterated light & cystic hunger. The uncut sky sick with onyx.
I didn’t want to know that to be a woman is to always be heavy with someone else’s suns.
Your sons under our suns underestimated my evolutionary hunger.
I bite back.
I arc & sift.
I am more & less
what it is