Two Poems

Lisbeth White


Myth, Seminal

in the story   the people could fly   re-membered a song from the before-land   when they sang it
lifted them up    towards   the sun and back across   an oceanic   ache    a story more new than i-
carus but still the wrong    reference point for you
    Dad    sun already cresting   your skin   &
clothes dulled   as brown mustard    that southern air   holding everyone    in the same thick  drone
& slow sap    of blood    not so much song    as militant cadence
  your flight    toward a
wilder-ness aloof
    air so cool     & thin    it kept you    aloft    the earth for years     how
gorgeous the black    of your skin
    made matte    under a new sky    overcast     it caught
neither   sparkle nor  glare.


all my grandmothers knew
   how to sew  the black & the white
   both mended      made quilts
   of scrap   some patterned brightly
   into compasses    similar to how pathways
   were once plaited   into hair     & one quilt
   made specially for me   child consumed
   by story   my white grandmother appliqued
   Anansi    master weaver to cover my dreaming
   body   unable to master   the patience necessary
   for threading  I thought    this skill skipped
   my generation   but

 that desert february
    mikey & i cross         the gila river to find
    hot springs   cradled by cairns         what
    we believe     a respite   of water
    though soon realizing            river water
    is unregulated          temper-
    mental maybe           wild
    is another word        & that   paleness
    is fragile         here   burnishing
    in a flow that     scalds         then ices
    so he cleaves            to sun-burned grass   & i
    darker more-woman   stay immersed
    having long practice     in how to breathe
    along burn or numbness      or both   at

do you see it?    i want   to ask him
    a near-translucent line          fishtailing
    present      against what   we always believed
    to be past    how our skins   were constellated
    centuries ago     pinpricked spectres
    of a long-romanced   fable     & yes
    i want to touch  him   as if our light   is un-
    tethered       sometimes pretend   there is
    redemption    in my choosing       in the shuttle
    of my fingers       through  the sand-
    colored straight     of his hair   

it is inescapable         the weft
    of our inheritance    the skein of story
    raveled in my limbs    what
    is weaving   if not   the crossing
    of any two forces   held under
    tension      the begging whip-
    stitch   i make of   tenderness
    to loosen   to bind   to finish
    the edge