a journal of fantastical poetry


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

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