Aracelis Girmay

[IN MEXICAN, TECHNICOLOR OZ]

 

  • In Mexican, Technicolor Oz:
  • first, the spell of paper-poppy sleep,
  •  
  • then the wizard’s twang translating
  • through the green & lit machine. Outside
  •  
  • & ripe, the sky, bruising darker
  • before our eyes & every adult mouth suddenly alive
  •  
  • about the coming summer rains.
  • We have been sent off to a Parallel
  •  
  • while the mother gathers strength so we write
  • a letter on paper that starts Our Mother
  •  
  • &, without postage, leave it in an envelope
  • in The Guardian’s yardgrass ticking with bugs.
  •  
  • Suspicion lurks inside us. Though it is forbidden,
  • we test god by asking for proof & miracles.
  •  
  • Get this letter to Our Mother. Bring a kid back to life.
  • But nothing. Then we pass the neighbor’s monkey
  •  
  • for the hundredth time and fear
  • its fevering revenge, the pitch of its screaming,
  •  
  • so we obey the neighbor, the master’s ugly cage,
  • keep walking, and do not find a way to get it free
  •  
  • in the summer of distance (our captivity).
  • Everything points to El Mago and his tricks,
  •  
  • a heavenless and godless Here. We walk around
  • trying to take the curtains off of every shape, finding
  •  
  • our heads. The crickets.
  • The lush greenness of the dark.
  •  
  • 600 meters away, just below the surface of the sea dies
  • the rusting ship, dyeing the water red.
  •  
  • In our sleep, when the bulb explodes against the floor,
  • we pick its shards here & there
  •  
  • in order to spare the feet their future,
  • but after cleaning, the floor still shines with teeth
  •  
  • of trampled light. They bite like fleas off
  • the floor’s slick back. Secretly, even to ourselves, we take
  •  
  • the healing jar down from the shelf
  • above the laundry where
  •  
  • the scorpion floats deadly
  • (like the ship) in its poison & the alcohol.
  •  
  • If anyone is stung, Don Félix says
  • that this will do. We believe it.
  •  
  • He is almost 100. Death floats
  • openly in the sentence.
  •  
  • He does not hide the recipe.
  • We have gone out looking
  •  
  • for a Meantime-Mother and
  • have found her in this jar.
  •  
  • Her smallness.
  • Her body of armor.
  •  
  • Poison and salve. When The Guardian finds us
  • we are sleeping in the laundry room.
  •  
  • One of us cradles the mother jar. Our mouths are open
  • and full of teeth, to cut the mother thieves.

ARACELIS GIRMAY is the author of the poetry collections the black maria, Teeth, andKingdom Animalia, and the collage-based picture book changing, changing. Her poetry and essays have been published in Granta, Black Renaissance Noire, and PEN America, among other places. She has received grants and fellowships from the Jerome, Cave Canem, and Whiting foundations, as well as Civitella Ranieri and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Issue Two
13.00