Worlds Away

what the nomad brought home

Queens

This is who we are.
Our secret selves at bay,
Animal instincts tamed,
We walk as wolves sprung from the underbrush
Who bow their regal heads
Under spells never spoken.
The beast within us longs to lunge
To bite
To feast,
But instead, our eyes,
In fleeting glances on the street,
Avert to hide the savage self,
And so a thousand encounters never come to be.

In this festival of near-forgotten freedoms,
The darkness alight with neon life,
My pulse pounds with the memory of what never was.
And every breath I stole before this moment
Returns me to our animal intentions
As we play at human roles.

The words you long to say,
The miles you have challenged,
The locks that I have broken,
And the silent codes that save me
In the doorways,
By the train tracks,
On the corners,
Under streetlights,
Where I find myself reborn–
Dissolve here in the instant
That our bodies
Move apart.

And though we toe the fading line
Between the fairytale of civilization
And the enchanted forest of our own destructive drives,
I know where you come from
And you sense where I’ve been,
And one expectant look reveals that
Neither of us truly lives
In this world that falls away
Behind the shadows.

October 16, 2008 Posted by | muse, Poetry, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aqlla

So you sing to me again
That hollow, interminable lament
Which tears me from my sleep
To shackle me with dreams.
You always find new tricks to bring me home —
This stubbornly devoted concubine
Who finds privilege in the humble shadow
Of your fiercely glacial air,
And lingers with surrendered reverence
Around your volatile, smoldering depths.
Yes, I recognize your invocation;
It’s a breath,
A regal salutation,
And a kiss.

But tell me, love —
Do you remember our game?
Do you remember
How I once melted in your embrace?
How completely I surrendered to the searing pain?
How obediently I waited
As the flames of passion threatened to destroy me?
How I believed that I would suffocate
Before you let me go?

Do you remember
How I branded myself,
Playing with fire
To cauterize your wounds?

I will return
With a torch
To clear the shadows of your long, tormented night.

Just, please —
Don’t burn me now.

 

*A mentor told me years ago that she thought I was an aqlla in another life.  Kind of a random thing to say, but I resurrect the idea here.  This title, from Quechua, is a play on numerous levels of meaning.  I’ll break some of them down, should you be curious:

Aqllana/Aqllay = to select/choose — This poem was inspired by an opportunity and the need to make a decison.

Aqlla = (lit.) chosen one

Aqlla = (historically) a bride of the sun.  The aqllacuna (pl.) were taken from their homes, having been singled out (hence “aqlla”) for a life of political and spiritual service to the Inca Empire.  This decision, externally imposed, was based on physical appearance, and one could not refuse to be an aqlla.  Furthermore, as the state appropriated an aqlla’s sexuality, she lived under perpetual surveillance.  Owned by the empire, she could be given as a concubine — or sacrificed — for the greater glory of the state and the higher interests of the people.  Stakes were high; an aqlla was not free, and “transgressions” of the flesh, as well as any sign of disrespect toward the men she was ordered to serve (service), were punishable by death.

In this poem, I refer to fire not only for its simultaneously destructive and purifying effects, but also because tending to a hallowed fire was one of an aqlla’s sacred responsibilities.

A little pre-Columbian trivia for you  😉

October 7, 2008 Posted by | muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment