CONJUNCTIONS: A Web Exclusive
And to Crack That Almond Open in Two, with Teeth
In the middle of that slice there was an eye, a white center,
the smoothness authentic as the skin of angels—
Even the ridges of its skin were like being sexless,
Invariant, like having the same hands as the hands of your sister.
Pity them now who polish their unadulterated haloes.
They have all let go of their stillness, their bodies pushed
shoulder to shoulder next to one another, the faces alike,
the vowels rising smooth from their mouths as the center of that almond.
Festival Images of Mexico, the Natural History Museum
The banners proclaim something. A new religion, a coming
up to the sand from the sea. In the pictures everyone is moving,
the camera catching a whir of skirt or the necklaces flying out,
strung together with thick bursts of flowers or beads.
In the pictures they lift their legs to the air as they dance, the eyes
circled wide with a mask of color, rimmed blue and fixed to the sky.
They throw their bodies out to the place where prayer goes.
This is how they say culture comes into us: with the bottoms
of our feet impossibly dirty, sixty candles or a salty birth.
Not like the clay figures in the Western Cultures exhibit,
where the beginning of culture is kept so neat.
The clay figures are within their own bodies entirely,
the necks fastened there tight to the wall with pins.
You Play and the Whole World Bends
You do so much plucking. With your hands, curved as the bottom
of that lyre, the miles of veins there under the skin like a taproot
set deep inside the earth. In the morning the animals organize around you, the rabbits
nibbling their small holes into your pockets, dazed at the sound of your voice.
And you welcome them. Their rapaciousness pulls through them like a stitchless needle.
The gentle pastoral convention. The hungry mouth. You with your hands like St. Francis.
You reach down to them like you are offering blackberries from the palm
of your hand, smashed and bitter. You get so close to them, cup their small
faces inside those hands, but do not feed them. Instead you keep playing,
the trees a great whir of leaves that slant toward you.