Sculpted from light
won’t you celebrate with me
what I have shaped into
a kind of life? I had no model.
born in Babylon
Lucille Clifton, “won’t you celebrate with me”
Your body tells a story
if you look.
This curled scar along my right arm
was once a cradle.
rocked me rocked me
Outside the nursery window a May
pole, Dionysus’ frenzied dance,
opium smoke, my mother
a Sabine woman, raped.
Born in Babylon
my baby teeth grew only
to chew the flesh of another,
bite mark: crescent moon,
cupid’s bow on my own
skin. What I learned
about lips and limb, pussy
and heart: unmentionable.
Is desecration teaching?
Is violence knowledge? Is haunting
a kind of life? I had no model
for rebirth. No second coming blueprint.
True, Hokusai painted the phoenix,
Raphael, Christ’s ascension.
There were neither gods nor painters laid in my tomb
only the slow process of the body.
Never mind past Jives never mind elixir
of eternal youth dragon’s breath never
mind the Elysian fields transcendent
wisdom never mind orchid.
What I have shaped into
self is very small, only
a buttercup’s pistil,
or a single blade of grass and today
I did not bend in the wind, today
a ladybug tiptoed along my spine.
Place your hand
in front of the sun,
slivers of light shine through.
Hold it. It is your light now.
Won’t you come celebrate with me.
Raphael ‘Ascension of Christ‘ or ‘Transfigurazione of Christ‘ 1516–20