FIRST ESTRANGEMENT
Aracelis Girmay

I do not remember back then
when I was trying to leave one world
for the next, my girl-mother on the table,
all her darkness torn
for our two-headedness,

when around our violence, floated
the universe

years away from that staggering
out of one depth into another,
I remember her when I crack, again,
open the (already) starlight of the pomegranate,
when I bow my ear down toward it like a deer
without knowing why or from where
the hunger comes, faintly it screams

the memory of stars,
of estrangement, the lungs
pumping with air

I take, & take
what I cannot give back


THE LAZULI OF LA MADONNA DEL PARTO

I am told that we are here
to ask the Madonna for help, to bless
our wombs & husband-salt & children,
to consider the beauty of
a world crowned by pomegranates in damask
& identical angels wearing socks.

She is beautiful, but in repose
there is more her face reveals,
the knowledge of angers, or death.
She is dressed in the lazuli dress,
one could say, of the mountains, the blue dress
of history, the always splitting
world on the brink of splitting,
her dress touched only by
the hands of men who clothed her, piece by piece,
the miners shoving their hands
into the mountains of Badakshan,
then the men of Venice & later
to the hands of Piero, in Monterchi. Hands, so many that
when the baby comes no one will know
to whom the child belongs. For this birth,

let us credit the girl, or name the violence or
a sensuousness, Piero or the mountains,
but not god, not the angels.


Aracelis Girmay is the author/collagist of changing, changing and the poetry collections Teeth and Kingdom Animalia. She is on the faculty of Hampshire College’s School for Interdisciplinary Arts.

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