“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

Shanta Lee

Trying to Speak Woman in My Own Tongue

because, I be bride,
sometimes, I be taken…
My hunger produces
lost friends, apartments,
their hunger expands
into labyrinths
I am rebirthed by
First Lust and Jealousy
Here, I be a xenophobe
estranged from

adapting to their
custom, their
language. My body
as wonderland, as

kept, as what
happens to me
while I’ve gone
missing
Me as their Minotaur,
an exotic of their
imagining.
The children of
Lack & Plenty
have nothin on me

 

 

Black Book of Creation

I.
How far can you? she said, far, he said.
      How far? she said, so far, he said, that

remembering all of them becomes
      a chant, he said. I only she said

can go this far she said, Great, great, gre…..

II.
Some sounds invite eavesdropping to all
the befores. Before all the gates of

never return, before tongues couldn’t
be trained in what they no longer are

Before they knew about choosing
between leaving of will or leaving

of force, before the before that is time
we didn’t call time. Before there

was anything colored about it.
That is – then, here, and there – are not

separate but on a table

III.
Mother sits fashioning her children.
Cosmic clay, stardust, and obsidian

for resilience. Dreams for seeing, and
the things not contained by language, and

hardships sometimes cloaked as nightmares
Story stitched into DNA like

home -distant -multiplied by
separation anxiety, forgotten

becomes the exponential force that
becomes a country expanded beyond

its own self. Beyond the shell that
holds it all together

IV.
Creation is the conversation,
What do you want to be? said she

Anything we choose, said we, But what,
said she, because the world said she, will

choose if you don’t said she. Magic, the
      ability to manipulate

circumstance, said we. It shall be, said
she. Time lords, said we, to collapse and

expand time at will, said we, Visibility
      and invisibility at will,

said we. It shall be, said she. But, said
she, as gifts are given, they can be

can be stolen, said she. So, with each
      of these things, said she, it shall be a

veil of forgetting, a spirit that
      resists destruction, and these wings,

said she, Don’t let anyone tell you
      they don’t exist! Don’t let anyone

ever tell you they are wax!

V.
Funny how the universe beats
against itself creating echoes.

How far can you go back? they said, Far,
she said, how far?, they said, So far, she

said, It becomes a chant, she said, I
       know all the names of my mothers…

Appears in this issue
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on tumblr
Shanta Lee’s poetry, prose, and personal essays have been featured in Palette Poetry, BLAVITY, DAME Magazine, The Crisis Magazine, Rebelle Society, on the Ms. Magazine Blog. Read more