Rachel Eliza Griffiths
(After 'The Two Fridas', 1939)
Be near me & tell
where the blood is going.
Too often bull-bellied clouds slow
drag our hips, fracturing
both girl & woman.
Barbed ideals conjoin
& coil their righteous dreams through
arteries, thick as autumn vines
that keep light out. And I must take
my own hand, must hold my own
hand, as if it were a stave of notes
scattered from a razed moon: brokenly beating
the rhythm of a thousand-throated
hummingbirds beneath a dress of tulle.
Listen to us: these women
say to ourselves: Eliza: Eliza.
The men have left & in a dusky corner
the women you have been
are piled like a beige heap of slips
to be ironed & mended, hung.
All mothers have left you
& in their shadows blood
drips from the chandelier
to the floor where your body
rocks in its cradle.
Eliza: you: Eliza: me.
Which if I'm answering
all of you
there's light in my lungs
like a pale bough of cricket lanterns.
I wear golden lamps
that open after midnight.
Our hands in blue water. Our thighs
a chord beyond the last sonata.
Four lips of light opening towards
testament & earth. Our imagination
The things that hold.
Hold me now
before I am no more
of a fragment
than the clouds behind me.
The body expands
its luminous stain.
Melancholic now, one Eliza.
Inconsolable: you: the Others.
Be near me & tell
us where the blood is going.
Be near me & tell Beauty
I was once unbearable.
Passing the Window
Some colorless breath blows mulatto snow past this window.
Opened or shut? Accident or not? There's a one-drop ghost
haunting the frame of this window.
What happened, they ask me again later. Did Clare Kendry fall?
Or did she lean back into a white shawl of cool gems?
I might have touched her. Can't say. Can't remember. Ask the window.
In a pale shroud of cool flakes, the gold wick
smolders. Clare's laughter coiling its elegy through the sky:
constellation of an asp & siren. Fallen sting of height
from that window.
No more Nig. No further worry about the colorful secret.
Bellew would've done worse. Black curtains over windows.
Remember voiceless Whites Only signs in the window.
I might have pushed Sorry off the ledge too. Might have bared
my teeth as my fingertips tapped the flame near the window.
Why, I knew my place well enough. Why didn't she?
The tall French casements will keep this secret. The window
in my heart will need its glass replaced. Shattered, splattered
with blood, pride, race. Continue to control my manners and my Brian.
On either side I exist. A suspect-scale upon the sill of the window.
Too dark outside. Too light within. Or flip it
like a coin falling from a window.
Elegy: Breath: Eyes: Memory
Near my body
a choir of voices
Eyes like mouths of blushed light
Breath spiraling stained leaves
Memory be near me
You captive admirer –
You terrorist –
You circus acrobat –
twirling in a hundred costumes.
Eyes be near me
You who fill the spirit with tears
You water my desires with blind vows
You blink in disbelief
at each delight: surreal shadows
imposed upon the pink-scrolled twins
of my closed eyelids
One day you'll be buried
& birds will sing while leaves fall
over my closed mind
I can't remember this now
I can't remember this
But be near me
as a song is near me
& soothes the melancholy
flint of memory
A choir of flames
spiraling a crown
around my heart
wordlessly I love
until I can't remember
when I stopped
piles of hair fall from my crown
a beast stares into mirrors
I want not to be
how dare the dead things return?
Black hair falls from crown
Creature of torment
Jesus in this jungle
Darkest one near light
White mother Black beast
Frankopenny trees bleed now
Forgive my father
Queen Victoria tells me
A stallion raped us
I must bear this race
They killed Lumumba
Blaze of Christian kerosene
Brightest of them all
Duchess & Jesus
weeping near the funny cross
Sarah hung by hair
Darkest of them all
My bald heart nears mirrors
Whose hair belongs where?