Wednesday, June 21, 1989

Stone Soup v1, no2, MoHurley Mary Bianchi, Electric Fire, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Rosale Sorrells.Summer 1989







INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES


INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES
From an etching, After the Flood by April Gornik
There is nothing one man will not do to another.
—Carolyn Forché, from The Country Between Us

No conozco la palabra to say 
I sometimes miss you en español.
It is not malograr or fracasar or perder.
I can't find the words in my language or yours.
I keep remembering what Alberto said:
who I am is not affected by this separation
but I get tangled in painful sheets.
No es dolor, es ensensible! Nothing is exact.
The suffering is also who I am;
turning stones over and over,
trying to fathom below the surface.
If only we could move freely among molecules
no separation between stone, water and air.
The invisible boundaries that divide us
also contain the vessels of our children
even the ones we robbed of identity and face.
I struggle with definitions:
go deeper into the idea of word,
primal soup, blue-green algae,
the first I am the world uttered.

I've been throwing the I Ching, finding beauty
in the physical shape of language and square holes in coins.
It keeps coming up the first hexagram, six unbroken lines. 
Tian. Origin. Heaven above, heaven below. 
Pictures echo the history of words,
the name written in English is a pale shadow.
Tian, the ideograph for heaven      
made from man      and     big aspirations.
an,    mountains or a woman      
with a roof over her head
means all is in order. And the last pictograph, 
a double gate      made from the sun.     
Gate of heavenly peace. Tiananmen. 
But six dragons are let loose on the world.

So much gets lost in translationeven from English to English.
The distance between ex-lovers, tricked by language
into believing each was something the other was not.
From the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon, the Apurimac
is so many syllables falling over stone
the apu, the Inca's holy mountain
and the rimac, the singing or talking river.
Unsatisfied with the first metaphor the world made,
we cannot even talk to each other.

Someone asks me a question in Russian, I answer in Spanish,
not my native tongue. Language dominance confusion.
When you call, I slip back down the throat of darkness.
Climbing the mountains wasn't enough. When all else failed, 
you wanted a madonna/whore to ply you with stinging whips of words
but the communion dress in my closet is brittle with age, 
the lace and horse's sweat on my thighs is caked with dust.
I learn the Russian word Mir is the same for world and peace.
Most is a bridge. What happens on the other side of the world
also affects who we are. I am making a bridge of sacred rocks 
to the cardinal directions because I was undone by the violence 
at Tiananmen Square. I am an artist first; poetry is a translation.
Sometimes, I begin to paint everything red and black
but it tricks me into sky blue and tender lavenders.
People see beauty in my work but I see only death
because I fasten my kimono from right to left,
like that of an exquisite corpse.

The birds are trying to move molecules again.
One breaks through the window screen, 
the other bounces off glass panes
like bullets riccocheting in Lima, Independence Eve.
I cannot go back to who I was and wait
for the day when it no longer matters.
Long shadows of summer solstice, your nameó
one more broken syllable the night whispers.
It's times like this I curse the limitations of gender;
to be nothing more than chattel,
without even a common language between us.
Respira hondo, my masseuse advises me,
plying the muscles of the world with sweet oil.
I give back your blue stone heart.
How easily I was replaced by the one
who wears your daughter's face.


Summer Solstice 1989

1992 Chaminade Literary Review
1990 Women Writing about Exile, Milkweed Editions