The water flowed on down
the side of the mountain, cold
edges breaking me into shards
like metal or glass. I’d carefully laid
my clothes upon a rock, folded
them with sharp, crisp corners.
The water sang to me,
loud, a collusion of sound
and I was seduced
by the music, by
its misty breath, by
its hard, stony bones.
Is it wrong to think on
the beauty of a bird? Is it
a sin to shatter the illusion
of innocence, to steal
a feather in quiet shame?
The rocks and the cold, indifferent,
left me scarred, my face cut deep
where I was pushed down, granite
against god. Beneath his downy pin
feathers I slipped
my weakened fingers
testing their limits, his
memory, my strength.
My face shines, silver
and gold acid-etched lines, sun
and moon of protection for the warrior
men, the ones who push me to glory.
I am their shield and their death,
the needed and the hated, used
like the tools of war, my face a hammer
at the idols, all conquering blows
and indiscriminate violence.
Don’t be vain, they said,
voices hushed in reverent stillness.
Be humble, be quiet, be subservient,
bend over for the lord of the waters,
think not on your own beauty lest
men become too tempted, and women too
jealous. But I can’t unknow my own
face, my very nature, and now
neither can you. I am used and used
and used again; to fight, to contain,
to break and be broken, and yet ended,
Wash my blood into the sea, I’ll turn
the waters red. Press my flesh
to molten bronze, to silicon chips
and golden wires, I’ll find the smallest
nook and there I’ll rage. Break me
into pieces and I’ll rise, each bit
reborn into revolution. Sleep
in peace, and dream of me,
for I never close my eyes.
You believe that my lips were made
for kisses, red-stained, luscious,
soft and warm like the womb
you try to remember in dreams. Stolen
from my mother’s arms, introduced
to lightless places where nothing grows
we spend the hours now like vicious coin
staring at one another across a darkened room.
My skin, once warm and brown like the earth is
now pale as death. I am become the negative
of myself, half alive and more than
half dead, drained of the sun I once kissed
a dry well holding onto the seeds
for the next year’s harvest.
I’ll be a traveler for you, my love, walking
the road to spring, falling back
into your cold hands in autumn. I’ll carry
your longing like a child
in my body, wishes and curses
mingled together, the taste of you
wet on my tongue. You may fancy
yourself the king of darkness and nothing
but true darkness only comes once
you have memory of the light.
[Lynette Mejia writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror prose and poetry from the middle of a deep, dark forest in the wilds of southern Louisiana. Her work has been nominated for the Rhysling Award and the Million Writers Award. You can find her online at http://www.lynettemejia.com.]