This Is Siren Country
Once you were as empty as a wind-filled sail,
but you’ll never fall asleep again. You are welcome.
All summer, the sun is bolted to a red wheel. It breaks
through a cloud’s belly, radiant, surgical, salt
nets spreading on every man’s shoulder. It is so good
everybody lies down. Nobody rests. All say Hail
to roots of my flesh, this weather to die for. Come and go
in the bedrooms like water, the old sleeplessness of
a body’s red sky—signal after signal plays off skin,
rounds the corner of a knee, all pupils lit from behind
as a morning. Soon we set a calendar of bacchanals.
We set a pace we cannot follow and we follow once
again starved. Again a sigil that starts in the marrow.
Again a nameless daughter, sampling the black stripe
on a roasted heart, velvet and severe. Again speech.
Hail to every body, swollen as a sail, tied in knots.
And hail to the mother and father you never knew
we had. To you, no generation walked on water
before us, but we sing down the family tree and cast
original seed. We are armada. We are cannon. You
are in a land of mythic heart, where want comes
to pass as real. Believe it like a christ, a cross—
This is called a harbor. This is a safe
that won’t sink with your secret into a wet bed.
The past cannot touch you. O hail your harvest gaze.
Love the great butcher kept us flesh as hell, diving
for dark terrain, but who can swim with open arms?
It is good to be unafraid of death, we say, crawling
high through a hot wave of weeds. Come, we swear
you will rise in fields again, ears raw, burst with grain.
Read Lo Kwa Mei-en’s Self-portrait with a Teak Fleet of Sailing Ships
Or read more poetry in our current issue