Aracelis Girmay: My name is Aracelis Girmay. This poem is after Ana Mendieta’s Nile Born.
—after Ana Mendieta’s Nile Born
I was so young I was the blood
still in my ears.
I was so small
I was small as a kitchen cabinet
& watched the adey at the window
on her knees, her back to me but
the palm of her one foot, brightdark —
with henna, human-shaped,
its shoulders & waist where the arch was,
then the plumpness of the lower part
atop five legs or little, reddish eggs.
Eyeless, it faced me, & was my company
waiting for my mother to get off work.
I cannot recall the adey’s face, her name,
but the smooth slope of netsela makes her
sometimes a snowcovered hill,
or a cloud I witness briefly.
/ / /
Three days have passed since I wrote:
“I cannot recall her face.”
I see her eyes now, wet, dark petals, her eyebrows barely there,
& on her forehead the green, fading cross,
the green of tears,
the green of flies.
I am a fly as you are a fly. Pollinating.
Maybe you already know this feeling?
To bristle with another so suddenly
you find her in the flower.
The memory or particle once her briefest part
catching like a fleck of rivergold in your hairs.
So there she is out of whom the flowers grow.
& there she is she is asleep inside the breaths
that fall like cloudlets from our mouths
onto each other’s shirts & shoes this day.
What part of us was a drop of rain, what part
a river filled with dark to wash the children in.
I am listening through Mendieta
for the schools of quiet,
the silences of silt, the quiet of some sentences
with their dark, green awnings shading the melons & combs.
The quiet of the adey’s foot studying me
is like the quiet of the window through which she listens,
so quiet she can sense her sons alive & sleeping somewhere
on the road to Khartoum. Maybe it is just a dream.
So shake the dream for what is real
of their crumbs & hair & dust.
Here, fly, take this. Carry this.