words alight

This poem is called “These Hands, If Not Gods” and is written by Natalie Diaz.

Haven’t they moved like rivers–

like Glory, like light–

over the seven days of your body?

And wasn’t that good?

Them at your hips–

isn’t this what God felt when he pressed together

the first Beloved: Everything.

Fever. Vapor. Atman. Pulsus. Finally,

a sin worth hurting for. Finally, a sweet, a

You are mine.

It is hard not to have faith in this:

from the blue-brown clay of night

these two potters crushed and smoothed you

into being–grind, then curve–built your form up–

atlas of bone, fields of muscle,

one breast a fig tree, the other a nightingale,

both Morning and Evening.

O, the beautiful making they do–

of trigger and carve, suffering and stars–

Aren’t they, too, the dark carpenters

of your small church? Have they not burned

on the altar of your belly, eaten the bread

of your thighs, broke you to wine, to ichor,

to nectareous feast?

Haven’t they riveted your wrists, haven’t they

had you at your knees?

And when these hands touched your throat,

showed you how to take the apple and the rib,

how to slip a thumb into your mouth and taste it all,

didn’t you sing out their ninety-nine names–

Zahir, Aleph, Hands-time-seven,

Sphinx, Leonids, locomotura,

Rubidium, August, and September–

And when you cried out, O, Prometheans,

didn’t they bring fire?

These hands, if not gods, then why

when you have come to me, and I have returned you

to that from which you came–bright mud, mineral-salt–

why then do you whisper O, my Hecatonchire. My Centimani.

My hundred-handed one?

 

mother to son

poem by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor–

Bare.

 

But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

 

So boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps

‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now–

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.