Saturday, September 23, 2000

I CAN'T GIVE YOU UP

I CAN'T GIVE YOU UP

I sit in the center of my heart's dream
between two worlds, between water and air,
between the two banks of the same creek.
Can't give you up, wilderness.
Can't let go of the stream
or bathing in the same water even once.
Can't give up the rocks
collecting along the banks
where washers lingers
but singing, mostly singing,
talking to me of desert thirst.
Talking to me of the roots of the stream iris,
then the red of willow roots, fanning out like hair.

Earlier, I heard thunder in the mountains
and thought of the odd gods.

I sat midday, midstream, in a creek
called Independence
on the day of the fall solstice,
facing west, midway between
the sun and the new moon.

Mount Williamson and stream
aligned with my hearts stream,
a desert hawk makes his way
across the scree
industrious jays and crows take sudden shelter.

Can't give you up, blue dragonfly,
small tule rushs, and fremontia
reminding the sun not to forget
the color it needs to remember.
My skin turns the color of foxes.
I sit midstream, and I can't give you up
licking my skin like that.
Stream bring me the translation
of your songs so that I may transcribe
the vowels on my heart,
 for the winter that is coming.


I gather barberries and paint an ancient path
to the secret heart of the mountain
where dwells the great spirit of the Paiute Nation,
the stream sings of its purity, assault and light,
glistening precious transformation
of snowmelt and glacier wisdom
destined for the LA aqueduct
and the black base writing of civilization.

Why should I hesitate to bathe
in the stream called Independence
soon to be trapped in the dark pipes of the city?
Menstrual blood offering to sacrifice to snowmelt,
offer myself up with intention to the sun and moon
of this new millennium—how we measure time and age.

Downstream, where an ex-lover will drink my blood,
womb approaching the end of its season,
in retribution for the child we let slip
into the sewers of clinics.

I know now that one can never quite separate
from the other, we shared language undiminished by time,
a migration towards the other, the beloved enemy.

I can't give you up. Just like the stream
can't give up the riverbed.
I find abandoning dells lined with rock barrows.
Soon I will become a more permanent resident
of the landscape. My flesh and bone
nourishing small plants in another cycle.

I fear I've lost my ability to write
but after trying to read my poem aloud to Veronica
I burst into tears. The potency of words.
I can't give you up, even if the art is gone.
All that remains is the poem.

9/23/2000
Lone Pine, CA
added 10/16

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