Slant

MOTHER OF GOD

Frida Kahlo,  Moisés, or nuceló solar (Moses, or Nucleus of Creation), 1945, oil on canvas, 24 x 30".

Snow is falling on the yellow leaves

And blowing across the nodding yellowing

And green leaves that have yet to fall. This

Is the third day in a row the sun

Has hidden as it rose if indeed it did rise

& it must have risen though I know in the pit

Of my guts with everything we’re doing here

The earth’s rotation is bound, too, to change

Not just the career of its seasons, the grief

& outrage of our relations. I have

Speculated before that certain enduring

Traditions, many of them called hermetic

Emerged specifically and only because a disciplined

And determined few were forced in on themselves

While being tyrannized by occupying armies

Or persecuted by their own leaders, or otherwise

Denied life. What you can actually live on

When it all comes down to it turns out to be

God, a single word, an untranslatable feeling

No monster and no person can ever take away.

I don’t mention this now for cold comfort

I only mean to point out it isn’t esoteric

That these days the only direction to go is deeper

Within. Which also means going against the state.

The beginnings of a feminine consciousness

Of the divine was only legislated in my mother’s

Lifetime and yes I know that’s not what the law

Was overtly about, but that IS what “a woman’s

Right to choose” amounts to, though the language

Is weak. My mother is enclosed

On the seventh floor of the West Wing at Mount

Sinai in New York City with the other psychiatric

Patients receiving care there according to and against

Their will. She is a casualty of the genocide

Of our people and the same war and the same

Regime that murdered her parents’ families and all

Of their friends and disappeared their world, which takes

It turns out, generations to come to grips with, and if this is the case

In my own family then think of the fresh horrors being innovated

Even now as I type and the lifetimes of haunting and horror

Thru which their awful lessons must be learnt. If my body

Did not enclose certain memories I’ve no idea

What I’d be writing to you now. These things happen according

To and against my own will simultaneously. I’m certain

At times my silence appears insufficiently militant.

Other times my speech seems delirious, an excess

Of the only privilege to which I have paid truly

Close attention: the fact or fiction I or we can even

Speak let alone speak freely. I happen to agree

That my body was given me by God and I say also that it is a figment

Of God. And also a fragment of God, which is shorthand for billions

Of years and thousands of people I obscurely sense but do not know

And scarcely know how to thank except by beauty. Squashes and squash

Flowers and flames on dressed candles and sugar skulls and the deep 

Relief of truths in the presence of which you thank God at last cannot

And absolutely cannot hide. The truth my body forces me to know

Is the only reason I accept the roughness of this encounter

And every poem I write is the wavy chalk line I’ve drawn around

Myself, the perimeter I venture toward where I might meet you

And the boundary of what can be said for inner facts I’m bound

To testify to the existence of even as I am determined to not

Betray them. A certain Catholic jurist and her rapey colleagues

Are unworthy to judge the truth of my body. They are moreover incapable

Of perceiving its living and changing boundaries, or understanding

The flame life of my text. It should be up to us

To decide who counts as our peers and who is worthy to sit

In judgment of us. Only we can set the standard for such things.

The notion of a peer, the very notion of it, is a fascinating dream.

A bunch of us should devote real energy to the investigation of this dream.

A jury of your peers: what would that really mean to you?

You’d choose to be among the twelve and face you at your very

Worst, and even also at your very best? I have experienced

Miracles the Law ignores. The Law destroys, the Law incarcerates, the Law

Protects the powerful, the Law is partial, the Law is the wrong kind of blind,

The Law is becoming the slave of Satan, the Law is unwittingly

Committing suicide. I know things my religion and my father

Declined to teach me. I live in a small city and stood in the rain

For ninety minutes with hundreds of people to vote, two days ago.

The previous day I stood in a similar line waiting for a friendly

Woman to stick a cotton swab up my right nostril and turn it ten

Times clockwise, a new ceremony of our age. I passed

The test again, meaning the tickle in my throat and swollen

Glands and vague malaise I’ve felt since Friday March 13 2020

The day Breonna Taylor was murdered in her bed

Was my own affair and not precisely the pandemic in me

Though I would argue the pandemic is in me whether I test

Positive or not. This full

Moon is conjunct Uranus in Taurus, the revolution in all value, in what we call 

Beautiful, the revolutionization of what has heretofore been

Understood as Beauty. Venus rules Taurus and she rules

Justice. Beauty rules money and physical goods and she names

The principle of healing and abundance here on Earth.

This moon is about the future. Dare I say she comes from it.

When you remember the dead you are not wallowing

In the past or some ditch of mere recollection. When the dead

Come down to teach you something it is because you 

And they are futurists in the rock

And roll of obscure time, a trick 

The universe plays on us to try and teach us

Again and again what life’s about, an ethic

We seem to have trouble catching onto. There is no getting out

Of this except to live it. Passing the Covid

Test reminded me how little of use medicine and politics

As we know them have ever had to offer my body.

Both have always been a con against women and especially

Against the people the state suppresses, incarcerates, expels,

And sterilizes. The right to life is a phrase of slavering irony

Worthy of Lucifer himself. I don’t know who exactly is telling

Me to write this but this isn’t literally about abortion it’s about

Your imagination. Imagine a jury of your peers. Who would 

They be. Which people. Are they all people? Are there people

You know who really are worthy of passing judgment for

Or against you? Are they

Even all alive? Maybe only Dostoyevsky, Deren, Du Bois,

The Buddha, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jesus himself are worthy

Of judging you. A rock, a tree, a melody, a child, a puppy, a prayer

The coat of a murdered man, enclosing and protecting his abolished

Scent, traces of his breath. The more our structures are invalidated

By evil interests the more certain and swift their downfall.

One way or another, one way AND another, the entire

Book, the whole of the law, will have to be rewritten.

Ariana Reines was born in Salem Massachusetts. Her newest book, A Sand Book, won the 2020 Kingsley Tufts Prize. She runs Invisible College.

From Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters (1968, City Lights). Photo: Ariana Reines.

ALL IMAGES