–River return us–
Naming is not possession of a moment
or moth wing brushing moonflower in darkness,
some are nocturnal, some only walk in twilight,
having gathered up tracks of possum, sifted
wind for coyote, singing is the power buried in pine
released by lighting.
There was a time, a conversation
of jalousies clacking open then shut,
when my mother’s words were little more
than a wish for a rope and a tree, the motion
of her hands working into knots,
rope coiling on tongue.
What went in one ear and out; herons, the other
of dancing in shallows, rivulets of small fish
dart here and there, pelicans observe all,
the low glide of wave top precision.
We dissolve in this landscape where it is only natural
to be queer and trans, to hold a mirror to the sun,
to sing for my tide against windblown sparks
of what arson has laid waste, see now
how moon raises a great blade against day.
Darkness burnishing waters, mirror of opacity,
my grandmother’s cast iron skillet liquefied,
a face of sinuous power flowing to the Gulf,
gators hauled out on sandbars,
sugar drifts of sand, oaks dip into the current,
moss feathers on a wind, there is no god
that has not marked us for extirpation.
Today’s flow is north, vast flowers of water
strolling past us, blooming over the flatwoods,
shimmering with cicada and grasshopper song,
rain fills the many mouths open in supplication.
Never not unbroken, wind whistling through
lattice of bone and sinew lashings,
a lantern blinking semaphore
to a horizon of cloud and sea, never
a reply, only shadows lengthening
beneath oak and magnolia.
Everything here is a mirror of a mirror
blackwater rising, flood plain
extends wrist to sternum, inundation
of spine, incremental lift, embrace of cypress,
of sky, place without winter where no sap descends
tree, root and soil in sleepless conversation.
–Naming is not ownership–
My mother will never
call me daughter, dead name
stitched to living flesh,
there never was a father,
just an accident report,
black and white photograph
Sky scoured cloudless
wind uncoils, loping across waves
with long strides of a bobcat
anxious for shade in the tangle
of fox vines dropped
from cabbage palms and oak
We share shadow
absence stalks our days,
as dry season shifts to wet
cumulus proofs over inland heat,
footprints, no longer visible, trail
away into scrub, sand and palmetto
Sea assembles waves
beyond arc of horizon,
Moon pulls tide
into the embrace of mangrove,
our feet sink into sand and shell,
small birds sort wrack line
This form is water made word
this form is flesh made wave,
ghost made smoke, a burning
banked up in ash, left for the morrow
-Peach Delphine (“River return us” first appeared in Dust “Poetry and Naming is not ownership” in Cypress Press)
Mirrored, In Transition
Who is she, that unknown lady,
whose face I rarely, barely glimpse,
ever from the corner of an eye.
That unknown lady skirts my vision,
never quite in focus, then fades from view,
she hides her face away, even from herself.
No one may see her, no one may know her,
she will allow no one close, no one near,
so catch glimpse of her face, ever concealed,
nor look in her eyes: dead, lifeless, barren.
Bereft of hope, devoid of joy. Shuttered.
Remaining in seclusion, reluctant to reveal
so much as the smallest portion of her face,
hiding herself away from everyone’s gaze.
Shutting herself out of sight, in her shame,
so no one is compelled to see her,
nor be afflicted by her presence.
Furtively flitting in silence, in solitude,
so as to avoid any gaze – even her own –
that unknown lady hides her face away.
Occasionally she sidles close,
that unknown lady with the unknown face,
to peer from the side of a mirror,
tentative, uneasy, hesitant. Reticent.
She will not meet my gaze, that unknown lady.
Does she want me to know she is there,
to remind me of her presence,
she has not departed, she will remain,
that unknown lady with the unknown face.
A face she keeps veiled, concealed, cloaked,
merely hinted at with a flick of hair,
a revealing twitch, all unconscious,
a bare glimpse at what lies beneath,
pale, shadowed, beneath her camouflage,
close-wrapped, tightly, as if in defense.
Does she want me to acknowledge her
when she will not acknowledge herSelf.
Yet by instinct I know that unknown lady,
whose face almost I recognise,
I know that unknown lady to be me.