by Rose Lemberg
I have scratched off these cave-walls the abjad in which the self is transcribed, that script without vowels, desert-parched, unaware of oceans - but a sheen of sweat rises from the walls like dew, three thousand years after the miners. I don't need to return here, where I've toiled these lives and years ago, a turquoise miner who paid the stone back in tears, who carved crooked symbols when nobody watched. I have been here, I have passed, with only myself to erase me bending down from future immemorial. Circumscribed by sweat and turquoise dust, hidden in folds of the star-embroidered night, I dreamed myself into this future, not knowing of perils - of sorrows that constrict me tighter than collars of blistering stone. I did not think that I would forget me, and yet grieve for languages that have been lost between us, three thousand years of mothers' names gone. I have erased and reascribed both of us onto the stone page of my story. Easy to say that nothing's been lost but I don't know what I am overwriting when none is here to slap my wrist. How can I speak for us even if you're me, type what it felt to wake in that cave-mine hungry, to scratch wordselves into the indifferent rock? But our abjads are almost the same; I carve resh for my name, for memory's not the extent of it, not when the dry desert wind still blows between us.
August 31st, 2013