Monday, May 21, 2007

414. Where Do Your People Come From? - Pattiann Rogers

Great-grandfather originated
inside the seamless shell of a hickory nut,
being enabled, thereby, to see
in blindness the future brightness
of combusting seeds and the sun's dark
meat captured in walls like night.

Three aunts came up through the roots
of raspberries, rhododendrons and oaks
and so perceive prophecy in the water-seeking
lines of the moon, in the urging branches
of the incantatory voice. They perceive
the sweet fruits and blossoms thriving
unwitnessed in the plane above the stars.

My sisters were spun outward
from the pinion and swirling-lariat swim
of seals under ice. They walk on earth,
therefore, with bodies as smooth
and radiant as daylight through snow.
Each opens to her lover with the same
giving grace hidden in the fur-warmth
of a seal inclining toward surges,
turning passion round, round in currents
slowly, then heading fast for heaven.

From the line between rock and sky
come my brothers who hold measure
and lock in one hand, hold flocking
violet-green swallows and thin, shining
robes of rain in the emptiness
of the other hand, brothers who swell
with the blue space of mercy
in their stone-steady bones.

My cousins rose right out of the cheery,
cheery, cheery chu
cry of the painted redstart.
Thus they think in terms of three two-turning
leaves and one hanging plum, seven-syllable
gods, three open windows and a single latched
door, six stitches of scarlet silk––three
in, three out––and a final knot.

And I, rising up through sedimentary
earth––fossil femur, jaw and shell,
burrow and track––speak as I must,
in just this way, of all beginning
points of origin.

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