Marks

“In my end is my beginning.”

There is a mole on the outer corner of my left eye,
another on the upper part of my thigh. The distance
between them: the time it takes for a tear to evaporate.

Where else on the body might you read what’s insisted,
recapitulated, what’s written small? Here is the mouth
with its characteristic stutter, the eyelid with its

recurring tic. Here is skin laid like an embroidered
table runner across the abdomen. On the field
that soon shadows in late afternoon, birds gather.

See the stroke of white on their tails, the faint
orange patch crowning their foreheads.
I want to decoupage the fragments of shadow

they’ve left on the green, the sad, sweet
impermanence of their flickering. Driving home
tonight, I hear on the radio about two comets

that must have collided in space, leaving trails
of dust: they’ve formed a pattern, a kind of tattoo
engraving the otherwise uniform dark.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Series Navigation← Landscape, with Salt and Rain at DawnLandscape, with Sunlight and Bits of Clay →

3 Comments


  1. I want to gather the fragments of shadow /they’ve left on the green, the sad, sweet/ impermanence of their flickering.

    AN UNSUNG SONG

    On some mountain terraces I had whiled sunsets
    away when young, gleaners stretch their brown
    backs at the end of their day’s toil and burst into song:

    I must gather them while green, must gather them.
    I must gather them while ripening, must ripen them.
    I must gather them on my back before sundown

    shadows grow tall on the red rocks on my trek home
    to join the roister of the hunt, to boil camotes in vats
    and cauldrons of goatmeat for the day’s harvest feast.

    That night I asked Mag-siya to be mother of my sons,
    a long streak of light roamed the skies like a cowlick
    on a boy’s forehead, and the night stars swallowed it.

    Hayley’s comet was the augur for the war that ripped
    through the huts and burnt stilted houses on the terraces
    and dashed the dense dreams of delivering baskets

    of fruit and rootcrop to my woman on the river washing
    stains of the blanket that wrapped our newborn son,
    he with the cowlick on his forehead and the howl

    of a hunter whose eye for the coypu rushing through
    the terrace falls would have been unrivalled in the valley,
    would have been the mark of all that was alive and loved.

    O, how these shadows torture me now at sundown
    when I hold on to trees, leaves, flowers, or roots to trace
    that cowlick that burns bright still on my gnarled palms

    and echoes still like a hunter’s hallo for the wild boars
    culled for the harvest feasts. The shadows are long
    in the valley. I have only my unsung songs of that mark.

    —Albert B. Casuga
    05-10-11

    Reply

  2. Oh, this is amazing, Luisa.

    skin laid like an embroidered
    table runner across the abdomen

    and the tattoo of the comet dust, black on black: such extraordinary images.

    Reply

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