from “The Fallow Field Laments” (79)

How My Mother’s Embroidered Apron Unfolds in My Life, Arshile Gorky


1 My god: the haranguer lays his hands on sawdust   & word
                                                                                  & house shines w| sebum
                                                                                 & saints lay in cold blames

2 the copses of our pine have gone to pulp   & drone over fretted cells
                                                                             meddle over the veins of rosin
                                                                              fiddle over the brooded wax
3 & turn dark in a stain of travel   as perceptible & discernible droplets
                                                                 in a denseness of disease & loneliness
                                                             massed as Theia in Earth’s orbital path.

4 We have killed our children more than our neighbors   & they laugh
                                                               behind our backs as we push ourselves
                                                            front & center in the landscape of lenses.

5 How long: Lord   will cedar & willow & oak blaze
                                                                   as white blooms of cloud drift above?

6 Will we feed cane into the mill for sap   boil sugars (down)&3 to the salts
                                                                       plow dry stalks into fallow fields?

7 For our fears to-fret a leaf of sons & swallow rains in their soil alone.

8 O: remember not our walls black w| incline: let the calf suck & be cut
                                                           our scalps bleed red through the mourning:
                                                                                                        rich as nations.

9 Help us: my god of salve   for the mud of our feet on flooded land:
                                                                                    deliver our essentials
                                                                                     & purge the house.

10 Wherefore (the new)&2 say: Where is the house?
                                                                                      Where is a second letter? 

11 Let us be known next to a sacred ox	grazing under the hickory withes:

12 as roots of a child   turn to xylem   & shed to foundation.

13 Let symptoms of the lastborn be found at a foreacre
                                          let arms be raised under the spell of a nowthen vision 
                                                                                             make choate my flesh
                                                                                                      & open heaven.

14 & open only fourfold a veil of reproach to our haranguer
he turns from the pages of a matrilineal book	knowing not our chapter 
                                                                                                    or verse: O Lord.

15 So we seen flames rise from our wellspring 	& our mothers
                                                                                                spoke of their shame

16 so Lord: wilt choose one to show a hope to generations?