Wednesday, April 2, 2014

On the Bones

by Christine Fojas

I.

Build milestones
out of miseries.
Build a history
out of selves scattered
in tokens
and crumbling sheaves
as unreliable as memory.

There was a fire
and it took my sins.

Was I ever reckless and raw?
My life is corroborated
and contradicted.

I wrote my name
over and over
in wild approximations

but so much of writing
is erasure.

II.

My life unfolds at someone
else's pace;
a voice intrudes into my escape.

The mirror holds a light
at an angle of instinctive grace.
There's a face staring back at me
a ghost of what's to come.

Every week I take a small leaving.
The desire
to keep the world out persists.

III.

Only I
at the expense
of--what can I spend
when I have nothing?

Only I get by
repeating promises
until they lose all meaning
transformed into notes
that remain mute on a page

I had little faith
though the song and dance
enthralled me

I built walls
that I couldn't scale

In dreams and tales
I could be anyone at all
there I was graceful
the page a refuge
of speculations.

IV.

Sometimes
fitting in seems like surrender.
Here on the map
annexed territories of a lost soul.
A poem of alienation
and everyday speech.

I identify with the losers;
when they win
it's as if something
had been stolen from me.

I tend a garden
of offshoots and misfits
mysterious seeds
that flower
like cats love.

V.

Is poetry a preoccupation
with the source of this power?
We build over the bones
in the ground.
We hallow ourselves.
We burn to extract our ashes.

Then dust to dust.
We only write because we must.

---
A poem built on words and phrases taken from an essay by Reginald Shepherd.

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