Marlene Nourbese Philip, She Tries Her Tongue. Her Silence Softly Breaks.
sought her daughter over all lands and over all the sea.*
Where she, where she, where she
be, where she gone?
Where high and low meet I search,
find can’t, way down the islands’ way
I gone – south:
day-time and night-time living with she,
down by the just-down-the-way sea
she friending fish and crab with alone,
in the bay-blue morning she does wake
with kiskeedee and crow-cock –
skin green like lime, hair indigo-blue,
eyes hot like sunshine-time;
grief gone mad with crazy – so them say.
Before the questions too late,
before I forget how they stay,
crazy or no crazy I must find she.
As for Cyane, she lamented the rape of the goddess...
nursing silently in her heart a wound that none could
Watch my talk-words stride,
like her smile the listening
breadth of my walk – on mine
her skin of lime casts a glow
of green, around my head indigo
of halo – tell me, do
I smell like her?
To the north comes the sometimes
blow of the North East trades –
skin hair heart beat
and I recognize the salt
sea the yet else and ... something
again knows sweat earth
the smell-like of I and she
the perhaps blood lost –
She whom they call mother, I seek.
goddess wandered. She searched the whole world – in vain ...
She gone – gone to where and don’t know
looking for me looking for she;
is pinch somebody pinch and tell me,
up where north marry cold I could find she –
Stateside, England, Canada – somewhere about,
“she still looking for you –
try the Black Bottom – Bathurst above Bloor,
Oakwood and Eglinton – even the suburbs them,
but don’t look for indigo hair and
skin of lime at Ontario Place,
or even the reggae shops;
stop looking for don’t see and can’t –
you bind she up tight tight with hope,
she own and yours knot up in together;
although she tight with nowhere and gone
she going find you, if you keep looking.”
from the rising to the setting son. She grew weary with her efforts and
thirsty too ...
Up in the humpback whereabouts-is-that hills,
someone tell me she living – up
there in the up-alone cocoa hills of Woodlands,
Moriah, with the sky, and self, and the bad bad of grieving;
all day long she dreaming about wide black nights,
how lose stay, what find look like.
A four-day night of walk bring me
to where never see she:
is “come, child, come,” and “welcome” I looking –
the how in lost between She
and I, call and response in tongue and
word that buck up in strange;
all that leave is seven dream-skin:
sea-shell, sea-lace, feather-skin and rainbow-flower,
afterbirth, foreskin and blood-cloth –
seven dream-skin and crazy find me.
* opening quotations are from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (transl. Mary M. Innes).