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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Nomadic Tutelage (Meena Alexander)

You strike your head against a door
And pluck it back again, ancient gesture, ineluctable.

Bone bruising wood, and the lyric rears itself,
A silken hood.

Gamba Adisa, you have come to say,
Afraid is a country with no exit visas.

You taught me to fetch old meal for fire,
Sift through an ash heap, pick syllables, molten green,

Butting sentences askew.
I try to recall the color of your face.

Was it lighter than mine?
Was it the color of the East River

When the sun drops into soil
And I, a child by the well side, pack my mouth with stones?

So darkness crowns the waters
And the raw resurrection of flesh unsettles sight.

We would journey
before light into a foreign tongue.

I hear you and I am older
than moonlight swallows swim through.

Cries of hawks mark out four points of the compass,
Nomadic tutelage of cactus and rose.

Blunt rods strike blood,
Toss nets of dreams across salt shores.

In Memory of Audre Lorde, 1934-1992