On the Excarnations of the Gods

October 7, 2014


Neile Graham is Canadian by birth and inclination, but lives in Seattle, Washington. As Workshop Director for Clarion West, her life is full of writing and writers. She has three books of poetry, most recently Blood Memory, and a spoken–word CD, She Says: Poems Selected & New, as well as poems in various journals, including Strange Horizons, Goblin Fruit, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

The rush of water pushes time, eating the shore
and exposing it, tugging the bodies of stones
back and forth across unmarked lines
of life and death, time and tide. Sometimes
they gasp in the air and sometimes lie
under clear and peaceful blankets
measured in fathoms
measured in beats
of hearts, of long arms akimbo
finger pads and heels of hands striking
the skin of the drum.
This is why, when our bodies become flesh alone
we open them to the sky, an offering
to the ravening of birds. Let them
strip us to our bones, baring
to the sight of the gods of the air
all our secrets, decades of mysteries
both splendid and small, cancerous and threaded
through our flesh just like our veins
to layer by layer reveal them as vanity, as glory.
They are gobbets of muscle and fat
gobbled by birds to be shat out on stone.
That’s how slight and how vast we are.
This is how we are crackles of bone, white
splatches that the ocean scrubs, weaker
than the tiny fortresses barnacles accrete.
This is how we are incarnate into the beasts
of the air and sea. We infitrate the eagles,
the salmon, the worms. This is how
we bespell the gods to take us home.

© Neile Graham

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