With a line from States of the Body Produced by Love by Nisha Ramayya
I visit sites of historic knowledge. Trees layer
their ecological light onto my human form.
The forest is shaped like the inner part of a woman.
Metaphor involving a body
that moves like my own body is a way to disguise
the expiration of my desire.
The inner part is the eye that sees beyond the river,
beyond the ebb of sexuality.
‘Rivers are tangled in nomenclature.’
Is the outer part of a woman her name? Alycia,
I could love your skin if the world forgave its primose.
Instead, I leak out memories. The rain
touches my inner eye, wets the eyelash that remembers.
What did the first woman
say about self-consciousness? My hands melt
over the oak’s leaves. I encounter the first woman
by encountering my own face in the river.
Two bodies alike, one drenched
in inheritance. An assemblage of green silhouettes
sink onto the water,
a phyllotaxy, if I were to give the shape a metaphor.
I like it here
at the Water of Leith, where my reflection is fine art
that quivers in the moderate wind,
where my reflection is both the first woman
and the descendent —
where it all leaks out, all of this unwanted touching,
into a pool that once looked like me
but now releases my name. I call this piece
a beautiful and vital place.
Ars Poetica with Footnotes
after Dionne Brand
The poet says she longs for permanence.
In the footnote, she finds a line in the shape of a warbler.
In the footnote, she plies apart the axis of her sexuality.
She is an eye. She is an ebb. A reel of wonder.
Every cartographer must visit the sea,
the sea is the limit of the atlas. The suggestion we are human.
In the footnote, she wears the language of citation.
Citation is the first garden where the first tree
sprouted the first brown faces of her brown ancestors.
In the footnote, she writes how do I take up space?
In the footnote, she writes I want to image like you.
A different kind of ecologist named the warbler.
If it were up to the poet, she would have called it tacc
‘which has a peculiar wooden quality.’
In the footnote, she finds a line in the shape of a tacc,
the phonetic spelling of one of the sounds it makes.
The poet is an ecologist is a gale is an unheard bloom.
In the footnote, she attends to a body shaped
like her body, a body that pours its river into her river.
The poet leans across abyssal plains like wet ink. She is
wing morphology. Name her after the sound she makes.
Image © scinta1