CHAMBER 17

CHAMBER 17

Memories Unbound

I have this memory
of lying atop a scaffold of tree limbs
staring out to the black, summer blanket
that warms the night air.
I can smell cedar burning in the distance
and hear muted voices praying in song and drum.
I cannot lift my body or turn my head.
I am conscious of bone and muscle
but they are not conscious of me.
They are dreaming while I am caught
in a web of exemptible time.

My mind is restless to move on.
To leave this starlit grave site and dance with
my people around huge fires
crackling with nervous light.
To join hand with hand to the rhythm of drums
pounding their soft thunder
in monotone commandments to live.

I can only stare up at the sky
watching, listening, waiting
for something to come and set me free
from this mournful site.
To gather me up in arms of mercy
into the oblivion of Heaven’s pod.
I listen for the sound of my breath
but only the music of my people can be heard.
I look for the movement of my hands
but only wisps of clouds
and crescent light move
against raven’s wings.

Sometimes when this memory peeks through
my skin it purges the shoreward view.
It imposes on the known predicament
with a turbulent bliss
that bleeds defiance to the order.
There is certain danger in the heritable ways
of my people who send me the chatoyant skin
humbled and circumscribed.
My white appetite leached of earthly rations.
Misplaced to the darshan of the devil,
the very same that
maneuvered my people to reservations ñ
the ward of the damned.
(At least I have no memories of a reservation).

Perhaps it is better
to lay upon this mattress of sticks
with my wardrobe of feathers and skins
chanting in the wind.
Perhaps it would be better still
to be set atop the cry shed and burned
so prodigal memories would have
no home to return to.

I have this memory
of escaping the pale hand
of my master that feeds me
scraps of lies and moldy bread.
My skin yearns for lightness,
but it is the rope that obliges.

I have this memory
of holding yellow fingers,
large and round, dripping with ancient legacies.
Of seeing the rounded belly of Buddha
smiling underneath a pastoral face
in temples that lean against a tempest sky.

I have this memory
of dreaming to fly.
Stretching out wings that are newly attached
with string-like permanence
only to fall in the blunted arms of obscurity.

I have this memory
of seeing my face in a mirror
that reflects a stranger’s mind and soul.
Knowing it to be mine, I looked away
afraid it would become me alone.
I am patchwork memories searching for a nucleus.
I am lost words echoing in still canyons.
I am a light wave that found itself
darting to earth unsheathed
seeking cover in human skin.

Afterwards

I’ve set loose the guards that
stand before my door.
I’ve let cells collide in suicide
until they take me.
If there were stories left to tell
I would hear them.

Behind the waterfalls of channeled panic
spilling their prideful progeny
I can stay hidden in the noise.
Being invisible has its cameo rewards.
It also keeps visible the durable lifeform
murmuring beneath the wickedness.
This is truly the only creature I care to know,
with luminous ways of sweet generosity that suffers
in the untelling universe
of the unlistening ear.

When I am found out ñ after I am gone ñ
by a stranger’s heart whose drill bit
is not dulled by impersonation,
I will open eyes, peel away skin,
awaken the heart’s coma.
I will set aside the costumed figure
and redress the host
so its image can be seen in mirrors
I set forth with words bugged by God.
When these words are spoken,
another ear is listening on the other side
beaming understanding
like lasers their neutral light.

The common grave of courage holds us all
in the portal of singularity,
the God-trail of rebeginning.

Somehow, so seldom, words and images
thrust their meaning into heaven and conquer time.
But when they do,
they become the abracadabra
of the sacred moment.
The pantomime of the public’s deepest longing.

Afterwards,
the improbable eyelid glances open,
the skin folds away,
and the heroic eye awakens and remains alert.
Afterwards, the words eat the flesh and leave behind
the indigestible bitterness.
The emotional corpse shed,
an insoluble loneliness.
The cast of separation.

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