Lorna Dee Cervantes
Into your galaxy I fall
Heartfirst, fear akimbo,
Over and over the tumbling falls
Of sensuous rivers inside me.
Take me to your forked places
Where the tongue seeks refuge.
Take me into precious highways where
The macadam vanishes into layers of distance.
Lead me to your past, to your dream
Sequences, to your black holes
Of remembrance. I will mark the trail
With the breadcrumbs of knowledge.
This journey leaves only once. We
Are the destination. Here in this sparkling
Sea of sky, your shimmering eyes
Weave a map of sighs, night whispers.
If I could feel you here: the slow swirl
Of your ticking time, the windy whirl of
Your breath panting above me, I would
Be home, landed. I would plant my flag.
San Francisco streets belong to me,
My placenta in some fish in a fish
In a bigger catch. Here, not sittin’ on
The dock of the Bay. This bay, here, this
Way of loving—this grace: this freedom
From the show of pain or dissatisfaction,
Of hesitation or incongruity. Just you and me,
My Cassady, my daisy behind the inner ear.
Yes! This listening, this indigenous inheritance.
I buy a crystal from the corner seller,
The retired masseuse hippie, we smile
Into another rainbow bridge. Me and Cassady
And the open flower of a book, the open eyes
Of poetry, that tearing on the page. Listen!
A thousand harps in the key of city lights
Chime on a sacred rising. Ten thousand strands
Of beads strung on a prayer. This hand now.
The casual gifting of another meal. I want this
Now. The one last grace. To never fall.
To play this now and do it all. This
Is Beat: The Way. The Way. The Way.
Be an Artist. Do it now.
I want to be the couple
in a starry starry night,
an old fishwife, blood
on her skirt, her husband
under a hat. I want to be
luminous, a single blot
of paint, the canvas of your
eye, a duo on shallow wallow.
I want the arc of moon
in the vacant road, a sudden swath
of carnelian paradise, the layering
of dark upon dusk upon our arrival
of the final departure. I want
the shawl of a couple, nearly
unseen, just serene shadowing.
Let me be in the shining, in the light
of something impasto: memory
into sludge, into the distance
A California native (Chicana-Chumash), born in The Mission, Lorna Dee Cervantes was the former Director of Creative Writing at CU- Boulder where she was a Professor of English for 19 years. Recipient of numerous awards, honors and fellowships including the Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Writers Award, 2 NEA Fellowship Grants for Poetry, 2 Pushcart Prizes (another nominated this year) and “Best Book” awards for Emplumada (’81), From the Cables of Genocide: Poems on Love nd Hunger(’91), and the 5-volume Drive: The First Quartet(’06) which was nominated for a Pulitzer.
Her new books are Ciento: 100 100-Word Love Poems(’11), Stunned Into Being: Essays on the Poetry of Lorna Dee Cervantes (’11), and the forthcoming Sueño: Thirty Something of the Cruelest and a Bit of Grace.
2011-12 UC Regents Lecturer at Berkeley, she is home again in the Bay Area writing fiction, essays, poetry and screenplays. Visit her on her blog.