from "embodied duet, recalcitrant aesthetic"

Ponder if her mother had to have a cesarian birth. Can you tell--by the way the particular woman lives her life? It is said in ethereal circles your life looks cosmically like how you view yourself. How I view myself has cosmic repercussions.

I no longer request boundaries of cosmicity. No demarcation-education needed. The labyrinth swells in place of wires around a silo. Inviting her in rather than keeping anything of her out. I pondered too long over cesarian birth, counting the reasons, rose petal calculus. Breach birth, hospital birth, Don’t you care about your baby? Nothing sensible senses us coursing beneath its flows.

After childhood, after adolescence. After youth and marriage and double-selved gravidity. After labor and childbirth, after mother(ing)hood. After after after. Always after “Mother.” Five sepals and five roseate petals.

 A woman grows into herself. Star-map, a constellation of pleasure-zones, a necklace of blue stones recalling the sky. Let go and go swimming, lake-become-sky, or sacred mountain. Wild pasture rose. Women, womyn, womb-and: body’s bliss, love’s manifold forms.

I “miss” her. “I” miss them. Tangent to each other. Infinitely close, infinitely distinct. Space curves where we let each other go. Carolinae, or how the method can fail. What remains? An inflection point, pleasuring herself ...on a ridge or a cliff-overhang. Wants to be close to the salty spray, the slats in the rocks where vapors mysteriously rise. How do they smell so herbal--so Earth-like when coming out of rock? Whose voice is it that sends the revelation through? In versatile voice what stands out?

There were innumerable priests there to translate her “gibberish” into prose. Men to turn a woman’s howling--her actual response--her shaking body--into something applicable to other men. She is altered during the time in which this occurs so she doesn’t really track the violation. But the temple does. It recalls the memory which she accesses months later, during which time she blows out all of the candles at once. She speaks with the voice of The Feminine--which is not an old story or a mythos or even a cultural agenda. She speaks this mystery because she is conducive to holding it. Repeat the word rose until the nervous system is back to neutral.

See how the lady of the heavens emerges an infinity of petals--all women at once in the decadent posture of one woman.

How she decants herself, abandoning the priests’ pressing: the whirl of soft yellow petals opening leaves me breathless, form refusing limit.  I clip the spent blossoms with shears, collecting their orange hips in an enameled bowl. All the stories are old, syllabaries of lauds told.

Apples, pears, peaches, plums, her infinite incarnations. Blackberry, strawberry, raspberry. Little-leaf mountain mahogony and island mountain mahogony, kit-kit-dizze. Antelope bush and cliffrose. Her names slip over my tongue: a dense tangle, a strong-smelling resin wakes me, decadent also in late summer light, her posture’s burgeoning plethora.

On the grass in the shadow or the light. She chooses. Her eyes heavy with strain. Breath, yes--but no matter how much she could it is as if there is not enough to put through, elongate the pout to an elaborate or elegant state of self. Trauma, imprints--these I see like blood running from her eyes. Tears down the front of her shirt. Her mother's shaming her all over her still.

"I don't even know how to want what I want."

"What do you mean, honey?"

"I mean I don't know what I mean..."

Constriction is not a face of God. It is a cookie cutter parents put onto God--this--a disservice every time.

My arm not yet outstretched to wrap around her--though it could be. When she is ready. She is still worried about saying the wrong thing in the wrong way. Where she has been is not Eden. No fruit anywhere there. Where she could be? An incarnation of her own design. No barrier as the incense ash falls alongside her pure, falling tears.

Blood mother the thought form. Weeping daughter the life.

Innate the mark of injury. Leashed by absolutes, the dance of mother and progeny intuits its contours, weaving across feeling’s torsioned lines: “daughter,” “deity.”

What do I mean? Obligation sutures over wound. Be what I imagined. Daughter, deity, the shape of any day. The habit of control or limit, stricture defenestrates scripture’s relentless wit. Still, ash collects along the sill, letting strain go.

Ready as wrung free. What am I?

The motion smoke makes rising into mountain air.

"Be what I imagined." Imagine myself being--bigger. A blue whale vocalizing with its pod. Breath-work during dancing. Her hand out to take her husband's hand in hers, again. It has been so long since--

she had to make a big deal out of it in order to get him to understand they needed to go to therapy. She remembers how she felt reading about that big body on the seashore. The sense of salt in the air. How--even though her breathing had become completely belabored she did hang on as long as she could. She wanted to name her, then--the whale on India's shoreline. To name herself. Something swollen, belabored but hanging on.

Being imagination itself weighs less than so many pounds of plight.

How about this--

I imagine what I am becoming as a way to become.

Love arrows its way through, arriving outside. The forms of birth, these wakenings, the petals of a rose spilling, spilt upon earth. Weightless. Paths into the mountains are marked with hash-marks. Piñon, lodgepole, bristle cone, spruce.

The climb etches away breath and time, the wind tangling xyr hair. Flight might be possible, like a thrush, startled into air.

Untwisting the terms, whispers, sung. Day song. Sun rises over rock. Xe sings xyrself, wakening. Weightless.

The body on the shore shimmers and reappears. Xe slips into the water, swimming. A change of direction.

A cutthroat trout slides upriver.

Continuing to cut the water's flow.

They had it all wrong--the group of men--talking down about a "Butch." Trying to put the words Butch and bitch together just because they rhyme depending on the rude tilt of a mouth.

It wasn't a micro-boner that brought xem to this state of being, sense of self to which the men were responding. Was much more. A sense of oneself finally in possession of the piece long missing. Early childhood visions of corn of every type--the differentiation between them--colors and textures--meant less than the shape. Could truly feel the shape as one's relation to free fields.

To correct men's errant. Living makes correction embodiable. A role? A gift? Against the window. “Her” words whimpering through the floorboards. Moaning and rain. Then wind. Omnipresent sadness-”her”--a bodily memory of birth state but never the orientation. The impetus of “her” to help with men’s errant--grew her to xyr state.  I guess it was conceptual. 
Spoor the path--so masculine errand can be so much more meaningful than base.

I would rather implore it--sightly stimulating its highest capacity. I would rather this than feel forced to endure with critique after critique splitting my lips.

Would a sob unearth her? Return xyr to ...? Hands brush away rock from the roots of the fallen tree.

To find a way, one’s own, untying the taught. Slipping the knot, bitch butch birch. Birthe. Fashion a self or cleave, nail pounded through.

Was it corn, its kernaled cob a fruiting lingam feeding xem? Her. Body makes its way through, also, refusing limit.

The density of a tree is

pure. Beyond duality. Preceding duality. A time

in the process of Sepheroth. Time for a Druid to stand tall. I could feel the tax of planar requirements on the system of light. Such tax made tasks of union with oneself less easily attainable.

As lover--I wanted to course the tree’s needs up and through its circuits. Demands you know how to treat a tree. A tree’s love language. Ardor through the auxins. An erection enamoured by intended ejection, from inside out. That part already expressing as a long member--but with blossoms at its tip. Cum the slingshot release--not a mess of goo but an actual mandala of florets.

A release, chlorphyll breaking down emits a warmer light. Yellow

over the hillsides.  A mandala’s four gates: blue, gold, red, brown. Only the membranes remain, the architecture of prayer.

Xe’s embrace, an entire universe, a self made whole.



Marthe Reed

Marthe Reed (1958-2018) published five books: Nights Reading (Lavender Ink, 2014); Pleth, with j hastain (Unlikely Books, 2013); (em)bodied bliss (Moria Books, 2013); Gaze (Black Radish Books, 2010); Tender Box, A Wunderkammer (Lavender Ink, 2007). The author of six chapbooks, her collaborative chapbook thrown, with j hastain, won the 2013 Smoking Glue Gun contest. Her poetry was published in BAX2014, New American Writing, Golden Handcuffs Review, Entropy, New Orleans Review, Jacket@, Fairy Tale Review, Exquisite Corpse, The Volta, and The Offending Adam, among others. Her poetry reviews appeared in Jacket2, Galatea Ressurrects, Openned, Cut Bank, New Pages, The Rumpus and Rain Taxi. Reed was co-publisher and managing editor for Black Radish Books.

j/j hastain

j/j hastain is a collaborator, writer and maker of things. j/j performs ceremonial gore. Chasing and courting the animate and potentially enlivening decay that exists between seer and singer, j/j hopes to make the god/dess of stone moan and nod deeply through the waxing and waning seasons of the moon.


Edited for Unlikely by dan raphael, Prose Editor
Last revised on Thursday, June 18, 2020 - 21:02