The Breadcrumbs widget will appear here on the published site.
Poem: Nursing the Unknown
Nursing the Unknown
Words by Emma Louise Backe
Image by Neely Johnson
The Tattooed Woman is seated for eternity in a loosely fetal posture, her head tilted to the right. Locks of her long black hair curl about her cheek and past her mouth, below which is a small, tattooed oval with a dot inside - a mystery. We know she is from Chile, where before 1550 A.D. her burial posture was typical. In the desert air, her body naturally dried and mummified. The fabric that once tightly wrapped her has left impressions on her chin and cheeks. –ChristopherYasiejko, “Fellow Travelers”
i let my hair hang loose and catch
the words of those around me.
they finger the buttons of bone
along their chests and purse their lips.
they can breathe as hard as they want--
their solemnity does not invite the spirits.
it’s the branches they rustle in their wake,
haphazardly clinging about the fire to see
whether the stars will dance the same
i have known the dance of needles
upon my breast, just as my pelvis
scarred upward when my child came from me
full of teeth yet unmoving. they cut off
his hands so he could not have a grip
upon this world that makes for touching us.
came to me with ink to dig deep--
those curses of pain only in the language
of unseen torment, loud and without voice.
they left small circles above my nipples,
hard and black pinpricks at the center.
they did not explain why. perhaps it
was not for them to articulate
deep impulse—an elephant dead
with only its face gutted by predators.
with these new tattoos i take the spirits
to my chest and let them suckle, gasping
a little. even in death my head will incline,
inviting my ancestors to taste my flesh
when the sun has flattened it beneath me
withered, leathery dugs men will trace with scalpels,
licking their lips despite themselves.
#Unreal #Poetry #Photography #Ekphrastic #Imagery #Death #Anthropology
Visit our shop and subscribe. Sponsor us. Submit and become a contributor. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
3/10/2015 03:24:21 pm
Such a lush, alarming poem. The words, the thorny images, like glistening incisors. Thank you.
Comments are closed.