They say that we darken
our hair and eyes
But I would tell [you] that
it is quite the other way around,
that the hair and eyes came first
before the spelling.
I would tell you that our hair is black
and stronger than any wire with
eating karuvipellai, stripped from
the garden, and coaxed them into
the thickness of our braids,
soaking up the darkness from the leaves
because our grandmothers willed it – which
[I suppose] is a type of magic.
And I would tell (you) that
our eyes, [are] dark
with the balance of the universe,
the distilled debts and broken promises,
made to us by men who, [confused],
blended, compassion with amnesia, crushed
into kohl and that to meet our gaze
is to fall into nothing, [so] most people
(prefer to) talk to us over the phone,
and to talk (only) if they must.
Until they feel the minutes (tremble),
whispering other things
against their eardrums;
(until,) they begin
seeing spring through glass wing
butterflies, and [start] finding
what mirages are (made of), and
how (dust,) sand come to storm
they hang up.
I would tell (you)
that we read people into the future,
write them into the past; we pull the threads of
herstories, through a telephone and [an email],
finding the detail
in needlepoint, in knitting
is a long overlooked skill
I used to do wordsearches with patti,
(eventually) playing Scrabble,
sitting there, on the divan, how many
words could I find in those rows
of scarf she wove, and
we took turns, knitting, and spelling.
I would tell you
that the greatest magic we work
is to (become), unbecome, by weaving
time, and space, and (memory)
that there are sentences lyning
underneath every word we say
like wartime code and witchery.
That wool is to words
what knitting is to poetry.
That a good scarf should work
[for] at least 3 seasons in a year
and a good poem finds at least
3 people tucked inside a body.
They say that [we have], with two mouths,
two tongues, and if not more,
one [of course] for pleasure, one for pain,
a clever tongue, a forked tongue,
a tongue that laughs and moves,
[drifted] through dreams
a tongue that licks wounds
[away,] that what we say,
we say with all of them.
They say women born
under my sign have
at least two faces;
at least, and if not more.
but we are not really women at all.