Earth mother sleeps

by Shonda Buchanan


This story is a hundred million feathers old.
You think they are years. Or stars.
Time the melody that sleeps between my whalesong breasts
Slips from my thighs like sand and prayers and dreams.
It is an old cliché, the running of the moon into blood.
The tossing of sacred scarabs into soup.
The sun on my back. I have tried.
But the brave poison of life is not love, but wanting.
I didn’t give a man a rock to kill another.
There are things my husband does also to make me weep.

They share flesh of my daughters like larva
Planting them in desert soil like pyramids and tombs.
One day we are goddesses and another, black rat they kill.
Where will the sweet corn come from now.
I am as old and uncherished as a boy’s bow.
Let me slip into the sea a forgotten mountain with
The songs of Inanna carved on my weeping brow.
Do not call me mother anymore, or warrior. Or Venus.
There was a time when I loved you.
When I would call you mine.

Shift valleys like spider webs in a cool breeze for your kiss.
Secret you into the chamber my mother warned keep free of your breath.
Crack myself open to water you.
Provide meat. Protect you from rain of hot planets, from your own unknowing.
This is the end of the bloodstone letting.
There are songs that will never be sung again from my lips.
Sybil, be nice, give me a prophecy. Your priests say.
Hathor, let my people go.
Sati, burn for me.
You break my face in the temple I built for you.
Tear my women from the sky like leaves.
Rivers turn away when you walk towards
Them because you carry too much
Feminine blood in your mouths. Too much of me that I didn’t give you
to keep. You come without alms. Without honor.
Your god still eats me whole like an unblessed cow.

It is an old story, a hundred million feathers old.
You think they are years. Or stars.