BY VALERIE MARTÍNEZ
Arch inverted: white peony
and stamens, yellow. Center
of the body. Imagines.
Who is absent.
Fingers in my mouth—memory.
Dragonfly so blue in the head.
Orange, as fire, in the body.
Wings, transparence. Disappearing arms.
The space where he was. Aureole.
The space he is, she was.
And the opposite.
Defines the dragon which flies.
Iridescent where it was.
Echo of hued wings.
Heat at the center.
Heat where she was.
Lack of passion
where the torso
won’t go. No path
through what is occupied.
Falls in a delicate arch, sees
own soul. Cadaver as shrine,
So white. Says white flesh
and no spirit.
And touching the dead.
And touching what is not.
In our calculations: the fact of matter
at lack of matter. The invisible, collapsed star.
If you must, a black hole. Thus the message of blackness
clearly indicating the coordinates of nothingness.
Remembers the pilgrimage
to the illumined wall.
And Christ’s face
was said to appear.
God’s face. Who sees it?
Child trying, trying.
Says to the child
(and it is the juncture)
go toward faith,
go through absence,
way to belief.
(Not believing. Not seeing
and not believing. All the chants
to atmosphere, blanks.)
Implodes, and all the way to nothing.
To illumine, first, then fades to black.
Hole where light was.
Absent star, perforation in there.
And memory of light, halo on.
Angels who walk among.
Seeming darkness around the head.
Falling languid. Lover not there.
My sweet—the miles, the night.
Darling my fingernails bear their half–
moons half-gone how long?
The house. Really my love.
The rooms are emptied. Haunted.
Ghost of you come here body.
And I can see her, worshipper,
with a blue robe, biting her nails—
thinks it’s true, it’s true,
someone witnessed the miracles,
someone saw it all.
And the mouths. Reeling the bass in.
Hooking the parabola of mouth, air.
Violence of fish body in the air.
Absence of water, presence of…
Open my mouth. His fingers going in.
The gills going open open nothing nothing.
Dragonfly so blue in the head.
On red wings, disappeared.
Sing sing going going.
Of all the tendernesses at the end there was that bouquet of
wild orchids the constant ritual the washing the turning
of the body so cleansed by a lover’s hands until the struggle
for breath the gasp and the body getting less warm the
ceremony and like the Egyptians all preparation then the
emerging presence the advent of absence the adornments
artifacts in the tombs where the lungs tighten in our awe
it’s all there but spirit saying goodbye are you gone it’s
difficult to tell you must be.
Theoretically, everything must be seen
as negative space. And then the task
of mistrust, tackled head on. There are limits
to the five, mortal senses. There are no limits
Reunified through occupied
space. His fingers at my lips.
Explosion of black in the opened
mouth. Five fingers toward
the perforation, from dark
hair. Toward the void, toward
the presence in there.
Valerie Martinez, “Absence, Luminescent” from Absence, Luminescent. Copyright © 1999 by Valerie Martinez. Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books.
Source: Absence, Luminescent (Four Way Books, 1999)