Man, woman, sprite,
flower, spume, or mist —
whatever got me in its
belly, bud, or tendrils —
it’s gone, gone, let go from here
by the man/father/namer being
that walked upright and said such words
as held an Ariel-thing leashed upon this beach,
and I’m left here, a creature
egged or seeded in a tree
lullayed by bees,
suckled on the spit of hummingbirds,
delivered by dragonflies
already old, and dripping honey from my breasts,
wombless, willow-haired, six-fingered,
barren keeper of a fertile place.
The rocks here move on feet, the trees uproot
and root themselves on the reefs around the isle
to keep the sight of ships
from us, the story-wrecked.
All alone with monsters,
flowery fish, fishy trees, wingy flowers,
I catch and eat still-beating hearts of birds.
And if I sleep, the dark draws in its fingers,
cutting off the color of my breath. I do not sleep.
I open oysters, slit their hinges,
lay them out beneath the moon,
watch them glisten at the stars,
then shrivel in the rising sun,
dead around their pearls.
I throw myself against the rocks
until I am pierced
and beg the stones to let me
bring forth from underneath my skin
an egg, a sac, a pearl, some
thing with eyes to see me, some
thing I’ll know I must not eat, some being
that along with me, might make a population
for this place, that we together
might have names and histories.
Commentary: When I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Glen Workshop, I met fellow poet Devon Miller-Duggan, a professor at the University of Delaware and the author of Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008).
I love her lyrical narratives, creative descriptions, and sensuous language. This poem is rich with all of those qualities, alluding as it does to the sprite Ariel who appears in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and giving voice to his imaginary daughter.
The beauty and pain in the life of this “creature” bears witness to the poet’s experience in a way that is true.