Elegy

I hadn’t a clue what to say, what to write about. I tried looking at writing prompts at the NaPoWriMo website and at Writer’s Digest. Both prompts — an elegy and a roundelay, respectively — seemed unnecessarily difficult considering there are only six more days before April and NaPoWriMo end.

But as poetry is wont to do, it came.  And in an elegy, no less.


Elegy


6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.  – Isaiah 6:6-8 (KJV)

 

my mother visited my office today            I almost didn’t
recognize her but she’d have forgiven me, I know

unexpected       she came dressed as a family friend
their faces so entwined I almost didn’t see her there

the eyes were not the same ones I see in dreams
different: voice, brown skin, flesh pressed tight in embrace

we sat down and I laid my cut bare in the telling
how it came to be, nestled just under my collarbone,
left of my sternum, a blight blessing visible to all

how my heart stopped and started, stopped, stopped
and started, started again according to its own algorithm

words burning my mouth for freedom with no room
no air left for the other story sitting opposite

I’m sorry, sorry                I wanted to say         manners demand
a place and audience for the guest sharing the stage

all of it: one ending and the beginnings’ of other ends 
wrapped in shaded laughter was heard, understood

a deeper moment of gravity tied up the conversation
and I saw her, my mother       she spoke to me
in the voice not her own

                                             You made the right decision.

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Things Afoot

Rambunctious. Radical. Raring to go. Reckless.

Have you ever felt like that? I feel all of it and more. I’m coming out of my skin.  Out of this old skin, into something…new?

Or is this just me finally coming into bloom?

Whatever it is, it’s electrifying. Or, in the words of poet Nikky Finney, pencilfrying.

Something is definitely afoot.  Watch this spot!

 

The Blackened Alphabet
by Nikky Finney

 

While others sleep
My black skillet sizzles
Alphabets dance and I hit the return key
On my tired But ever jumping eyes
I want more I hold out for some    more
While others just now turn over
shut down alarms
I am on I am on
I am pencilfrying
sweet Black alphabets
in an allnight oil

 

Lynn Carol Nikky Finney, “The Blackened Alphabet” from Rice. Copyright © 1995 published by Sister Vision: Black Women and Women of Color Press.

Lady Lazarus

We tell our own stories, and listen to others’, to understand life and our place in it. We tell these stories so we won’t be alone.

 

Lady Lazarus

I wish I could say I died once
but that’s not so.
Maybe I should confess
death found me alluring enough,
it returned for encores.

It could not bear to leave
with my taste still lingering
in its mouth. The way I gave over,
still thinking this was just courtship,
thinking I knew the dance.

Seventh time the seal.
I was promised. Death’s first dances
led me with skirts awhirl. Fourth, fifth
sixth, it dipped me low, then into
a tarantella of motion.

Death spun me away, drew me back.
Its cool fingertips my only anchor. Revelation
near, death paused its unmasking for one
final sip from my parted lips. A hard insistence
laid across its shoulder. Life was cutting in.