I am learning to speak, again.
Astral, spectral, half-in-dream.
I make my way through the jig-
saw of a cruel and perfect grammar.
Or, just barely. And I have stopped
making work that can’t disappear.
But the music is too much for me. I can take it
but only in minute and fixed increments.
Baby food in a spoon, measured in bite-fulls,
or a capsule I swallow only in daylight,
mid-day after classes. I take it, a sweet
obscene ointment, cosmetic, or
medicine. The most nourishing.
delicate gold capsule of infinite
emollient and sorrow, I swallow
the power and it enters me.
Like ink spilling, or voracious,
an appetite, and all-consuming.
A memory or a snapshot, its flash-light,
illuminating, it takes me, and then
it erases everything.
In the letter never sent, the one
constructed entirely of photographs.
Black coffee for breakfast with Floradix,
and magnesium, snapshots of the path
from the apartment to the S-Bahn,
french cigarettes I bought
then finally had to throw out.
A bright blue lighter and packs
of film sealed and wrapped
in silver, baskets of berries,
museum catalogs, and Derrida’s
Glas, his poetic take on Genet
and Hegel, in German
and its original, French.
In the kitchen, tins are filled
with scraps of letters and notes
collected and catalogued
to be used only in this poem.
Carmel candies, postcards
from the Ukraine and matches.
In the dream, from which I cannot wake
I ride the train to the outskirts of the city
the high rise, housing projects,
poverty and the children
living within it. Alone, and often
beautiful, unafraid and inside
invisible skeins and rooms,
my body, always
filling with music.
Isolated in the hospital ward,
begging, again, for some contact.
Animals, or the touch of another human.
To be seen, to taken in,
is a sustainable form of nourishment.
The opposite is also true.
When after what happened, that,
just one more in an endless litany
of accidents, the PT man
at SF General put his hands
on my bare arm, and I could not stop
my body from its weeping.
They say if a child is not touched, is left,
unloved, ignored and treated
with the poverty of neglect,
when an infant. Layers of armor
from years, until it builds
its own character inside me.
I was never the one, no one
talked with me, touched me.
I spent hours outside with the animals
loving them, tending them. Disappearing
into the liquid ink of their eyes.
Cynthia Cruz is the author of four collections of poetry, including three with Four Way Books: The Glimmering Room (2012), Wunderkammer (2014), and How the End Begins (2016). Cruz has received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony as well as a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in writing and an MFA in Art Criticism & Writing from the School of Visual Arts. Cruz is currently pursuing a PhD in German Studies at Rutgers University. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College