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p.o. box 80, cooper station
new york, ny 10276
208-693-6152 fax



from Pith & Amber

by Carah A. Naseem




from scrape bark of the sycamore with your teeth; scrape the moon


When he sets me here, he sets me here not to look at me. When he sets me here, he sets me here to look into the sky and laugh. When he sets me here, he sets me here to forget what it means to have legs that can unsettle the ground. When he sets me here, he sets me here to become tree bark, remember the sensuousness of my fingers. I am set here to sit on top of this tree and scrape the moon with my teeth. This tree grew out of the place that he marked for me three generations ago. I was born here, he put me here. He takes me by the big toe every morning, dangles me upside down over the deep wood that whispers. The wood grew when I was born. He put me here in this wood, I live here with him. He buries relics in the back of my knees, the inside of my elbows, underneath my arms. He brushes my neck with the silver hair. He burrows his face between my legs and turns me into a river. He takes me by the big toe every morning and blesses my ankles. He knows my weakness. He exists here without a face. Long ago, he put his face in my hands and said, "Take it." I looked at his face and kissed it. He took my kiss and bottled it, forced it into his throat. He breathes my lips. When he sets me here, he sets me here to write him new songs from the whispers of sycamore. When he sets me here, he sets me here to sing him new songs over the cacophony of the wood. He whispers softer than the trees. He touches the air around me with his thought. He eats the marrow of trees, consumes generations. Before I was born, he had a face. When I was born I kissed his face, and he forgot his face. Before I was born, the wood did not exist. He lived in the hollow of a stump, he drank the fermented tears of the woman of the stump, he combed her hair drunk every morning. He took her by the hand every morning, taught her the words of the wood he envisioned. He put dirt on the face he had, he combed her hair with his rib. He took the bones from his feet and arranged them in words where he envisioned the wood would be. The woman of the stump cried and dissolved the bones. The woman of the stump covered her body with the leaves of the sycamore. He took the leaves of the sycamore and drank the chlorophyll. The woman of the stump was still greener. Before I was born, he entered her and combed her hair every morning. He marked the ground with his rib and generations later I was born. I was born and he didnít look at me. I circled around my tree for a generation. I circled around my tree every morning. I circled around my tree and then I slept. I circled around my tree and he didnít look at me. He combed the hair of the woman of the stump and they covered their bodies with the leaves of the sycamore. I was paler than the pale of the wood. She was colored green. When I became a woman, he looked at me. I spoke the words of the wood he envisioned, he forgot his rib and looked at me. He put his face in my hands and said, "Take it." I looked at his face and kissed it. I did not know what it meant to kiss him. I circled around my tree and didnít know about kissing. I kissed his face and he forgot his rib, he forgot his face. He takes me by the big toe every morning and I do not look into his face. When he sets me here, he sets me here to not look at his face. I no longer circle around my tree, but I sit in my tree because he set me here. He ran his hands over my long legs and he set me atop this tree. The woman of the stump became greener and greener. She lost her hair, she covered herself in bark and leaves, she forgot how to unsettle the ground with her legs. The woman of the stump grew into the wood and whispers to him every morning. Hanging by my big toe, her whisper crawls into my ear, curls and rapes. He takes his rib every morning, shoves it down her throat. The woman of the stump shrinks into her tree every morning, cradling the vestigial rib in her belly. He never gave her child, he gave her his rib, he combed her hair. When he sets me here, he sets me here not to inseminate me. When he sets me here, he sets me here to become white chaste bark. When he sets me here, he sets me here only so he can look in my eyes. He takes my eyes and coats them in gold. He takes my shoulders and casts them in bronze. He paints my teeth with lapis, he shears the hair from my skin with the bark for teeth cleansing, he smoothes the wax for the teething of broken infants over my hairless body. When he sets me here, he puts me here to scrape the moon with my body. When he sets me here, he sets me here to bite into the sky. He makes me gleam in the mouth of sky. I am a fang above the wood.

He stands beneath me, beneath my weight. I am a fang pressing into his chest. He looks into me and his touch is tender. His touch of himself is unknown. His touch of himself is holy. I scrape the moon with my body and offer him forgotten water. I slip against the tree bark, carve it with my weight, wrap him with it. When he sets me here, he sets me here to look into me. His touch of himself is catholic. His touch of himself touches into me. We sit in this tree and feed each other darkness where the breath leaves. The breath leaves and spirals outwards into a darkness. His touch of himself is a vesper. His touch of himself is anointing. He touches himself with quick moistness, he is canonized. He is of quick moistness, he is of quick breath, he is of quick skin. His skin teaches me what it is to weep. His jaw teaches me what it is to be small. His ankles teach me what it is to dance in your feeling. Once, I circled around my tree and did not know what it is to kiss him. Once, he combed a womanís hair and she did not know his touch of himself. He entered her and combed her hair every morning. His fingers knew what it was to spin. Her fingers knew what it was to spin. Once, he spun his fingers and the woman did not know the cradle inside him. His ankles dance in his feeling, his legs sweeten the air. His fingers spin and there is a darkness where the breath leaves. His fingers spin and a chrysalis blooms into the wood. Chrysalis spun from quick moisture. Quick moisture of amber and cream. Angel's eggs. Mortar and pestle. Chrysalis spun from amber and cream. Honey and angel's eggs. His fingers spin and enter a sainthood. His fingers spin and reach a state of being. He anoints me and there is a darkness where the breath leaves. We are holy. When he sets me here, he sets me here to wrap me in his warmth and glow inside. I am inside my cocoon. Chrysalis catholici.

He is in a solace of curls. He is in a forest of curls. He is in a sanctuary of curls.

He turns me into a river.

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