Saturday, September 24, 2011

fighte fuaighte ("woven into and through each other")

my father's tongue.
fado. fado.
anam cara, listen to my tale
once upon a time.

in a lonely boat
sat a fisherman
who had drifted far 
from known waters.

he did not know
that other fishermen
stayed away from this bay.
"haunted waters,"
they would murmur.

oblivious, he sat and
his hook drifted
and sank
and flew
with the currents,
reaching down
to grasp and settle
in the bones
of skeleton woman's rib cage.

he pulled,
happy to have snagged such a large fish.
surely he would be seen a hero
in the eyes of his hungry people.

but skeleton woman
resented the disturbance
and struggled and thrashed 
against forced verticality.

her stubborn action
tangled the lines
and tangled her bones
and the kayak above

yet, for all her fighting,
she continued to rise.

he did not see her bald head surface.
 he did not see her coral-boned body
and the crustaceans on her old ivory teeth
until she clattered before him.

"aggggghhhh!" he wailed
and paddled hard for shore.
but no matter how he maneuvered his kayak,
she stayed with him,
blowing breath across the waters.

he leaped out when he reached shore
and ran across frozen earth.
and she followed behind him,
bumpety-bump in the night.

into his ice tunnel he crawled,
and she crawled behind him,
knee in her ribs,
foot over her elbow,
heel on her shoulder.

at some point
his fear abandoned him
and he looked kindly upon
this boney woman his lines had ensnared.
he sang, "oh, na, na, na.
oh, na, na."
as he gently untangled her
and dressed her in furs
when her bones were set.

and she
laid still 
and said nothing,
praying he would not 
take her out to the rocks
and break her apart completely.

drowsy from his labor and terror,
he soon drifted to the land of dreams.
she watched as some action therein
led him to shed a tear.

with a bony finger,
she reached out,
caught it, and drank it up greedily.
this single tear was living water,
and she drank, and drank, and drank
until her thirst retired.

and then she began to sing
and sang to fill her body with flesh --
with breasts long enough to throw over her shoulders.
sang for hair and pale moonbeam feet.
sang for the ripe divide between her legs
and all the other things a woman needs.

and when she was done,
she sang the sleeping man's clothes off
and tangled in the skins with him,
joining together in a good and lasting way.

...dadme la muerte que me falta...
so that the life i agreed to can live.

(inspired by and built upon clarissa pinkola estes's telling of "skeleton woman,"
which can be found in her book Women Who Run With the Wolves.)

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