Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The beauty that flows in the blood

Sonia Sanchez writes in "haikuography," the preface to her book, morning haiku, that "from the moment i opened that book, and read the first haiku, i slid down onto the floor and cried and was changed. i had found me."

In the two-page essay, Sanchez somehow goes on to say more than one might expect to find in a short essay about self and poetry, about short pauses and long memory, about "the blood veins behind beautiful eyes, the fluids in teeth, and the enamel in tongues..."

Sanchez packs all that, the pauses and memories and bitter folk experience, into "15 Haiku," dedicated to Toni Morrison. In the 15th haiku, Sanchez asks,

"O will we selves ever
convalesce as we ascend into wave after
wave of blood milk?"

The answer, one imagines, can only come after poets like Sanchez have begun at the beginning and waited until the end to pose the question.

15 Haiku
(for Toni Morrison)

We know so little
about migrations of souls crossing
oceans. seas of longing;

we have not always been
prepared for landings that held
us suspended above our bones;

in the beginning
there wuz we and they and others
too mournful to be named;

or brought before elders
even held in contempt. they were
so young in their slaughterings;

in the beginning
when memory was sound. there was
bonesmell. bloodtear. whisperscream;

and we arrived
carrying flesh and disguise
expecting nothing;

always searching
for gusts of life
and sermons;

in the absence
of authentic Gods
new memory;

in our escape from plunder
in our nesting on agitated land
new memory;

in our fatigue at living
we saw mountains cracking
skulls, purples stars, colorless nights;

trees praising our innocence
new territories dressing our
limbs in starched bones;

in our traveling to weselves
in the building, in the journeying
to discover our own deaths;

in the beginning
there was a conspiracy of blue eyes
to iron eyes;

new memory falling into death
O will we ever know
what is no more with us;

O will weselves ever
convalesce as we ascend into wave after
wave of bloodmilk?