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When Nature Inhabits a Body: Two Poems by Shireen Madon

‘The pain entered / me the way the moon / disarms the daya slick blade. / I offered myself as water, / studied its errancy. / What a good citizen, / I thought.’

By Shireen Madon
Poetry | Body, ghost, human, nature
January 10, 2017



Poem after Zinaida Serebriakova’s Young Woman in Profile, Marrakesh, 1932


Some crows

crack open the dawn’s

red fruit.

Through glassless windows,

the day ignites

in your clay hands

with the exigency

of a thousand inhabited

planets.

Tongue-tied, you

try to name

the birds in the garden.

The crowd of them

excluding,

then mollifying

and cannibalizing you.

They pull roses

from your mouth,

thorns intact.

You wear a beautiful

story.

You mistook a ghost

for a deity,

lost count of your wars,

and now you are gone, too.

Still, the nightjars

sing in the desert.




Autobiography of Spine

A year of hurt passed
through my body
like a ghost
gulfed between waiting
and wanting.
It was a hibernation I survived—
not for lack of trying.

I was made a home
for the bees.
My ligaments branch.
Honey and fear swelled
in me like an allergy.

I wore what weather
I was allowed.
A tsunami’s kid gloves.
A dress of comb
unwrapped
from the day’s cartilage.

The pain entered
me the way the moon
disarms the day
a slick blade.
I offered myself as water,
studied its errancy.
What a good citizen,
I thought.

I was given a name
easy on the tongue
spelled in tumult.
I learned its dance.
But the hive crowded me
out until I was bare
and without.

I swam to a body
of land where
there were trees
and tall, kind figures.
I asked nothing.
I slept for days
and am still sleeping.