Inside she sits and spins, decanting gold
and silver from her wrists. Her fingers bleed.
Day and then night. Myriad windows perch
above her head brilliant birds. Through them
she cannot see the river pirouette
from a valley hung high, tumble, kneel deep
into a basin blue as chiming bells
set in obsidian rocks. Night and then day
but she cannot observe the stars, the sun.
She scoffs air, laps sweat off her chin. Straining
to listen finds she cannot hear even
the wind. The walls leach marrow from her bones.
The room adjusts around her shrinking frame
of mind. She teases out a winking thread
curls it about a spool, then wheels and comes
again. Rich filaments bite through her skin
as she construes the pile of unspun wool,
rovings of thought, symbols of winding cord,
strings she makes hum, imagine up a poem
to twist the tongue, cable to match a letter to
a sound, a drill that interweaves syntax
of word and necessary word, a song to bring
a measured metre to the hands that drum
on ancient wood. But this can’t be a life.
Flapping flamboyant wings the windows preen
and squawk, a flock cruising landscapes she will
not see again. The river in the rising sun
spits, spurts, explodes resplendent as a veil
let fall to hide a bride. Marry she won’t
locked in this tower where time goes. Her green
flesh crawls fluted as wrinkled sea. Once she
was brown and curious in the world, Now her
illumination is a crusted bulb
on a high wire. How did she come to this,
within without an inkling of out, intent
on weaving meaning as she strips it from
herself? And still she feeds the iridescent mound
so thick and plentiful it steals the light..
And are you sad alone? Not when I spin.
And are you sorry for the yarns you make?
No, for they keep the children warm. What if
you die spinning a thread? Better than in my bed…
© Pamela Mordecai 2010
from the manuscript, LITANY ON THE LINE: SUBVERSIVE SONNETS IN THIRTY-THREE SUITES.
About the author:
Pamela Mordecai has written articles on Caribbean literature, edited and co-edited ground breaking anthologies of Jamaican poetry and Caribbean women’s writing, published textbooks, children’s books, four collections of poetry (Journey Poem, de man, Certifiable, The True Blue of Islands), a collection of short fiction, Pink Icing, and a reference work, Culture and Customs of Jamaica (with husband, Martin). Her play, El Numero Uno, had its world premiere at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People in February 2010. A prize-winning poet with a PhD in English, Mordecai lives in Toronto.
Thanks to both of you. I must read this poem correctly when I get back to a stable web connection.
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