Poetry

Ingar Brunnett

Art History: Harlem Renaissance and the China Girls — Nov. 26, 2004

A poem to Angela Davis and others for breaking the preconceived notion of women in Art as followers

Blonde dreadlocks in leather pants
a woman
in pacifist form with Marxist genes
taught me that oppression
in ways can set
a soul on fire to freedom

She made me think of skin as palette
her slide show of the Renaissance
Harlem 1910
ladies complected to peroxide white
hair smoothed by lye
the transgression to blend black to white
to pass high
yellow with green eyes
and skin to light
"so bigots can sway us as their own
she'd say

My thoughts would turn to China girls
princesses that bound their feet
that matched pastries
delicate and still sweet
fragrant untouched lily pads
while daddies went to work on railroads to set up camp

and married Jewish ladies in the ghetto of their new homeland
and momma was left in China grieving for her past

That was the new slave trade where Chinese Coolies
took obedience in the silence of their hearts

The days sprang back more
when the girl I played hopscotch and catching butterflies with
left me out
to walk past with their old man
and a teardrop tattooed beneath her lid
"Call me Lagrima now,
with my Chola girls

Don't come near me China
because you'll always pass my game”

That was my best friend, Risa Gonzalez
when we said goodbye to Potrero Hill
and the city inside the barrio of our minds

I woke to give way to Angela and the others
so preconception gave way to all that is created.

 

Being Beautiful — May 17, 2004

It takes a monstrous wit
to step inside mixed paints
with ample hopes as this

Beautiful
streams of hues
that wash to blue
mincing broken hearts

Beauty
a realm released
by the Creator's hand
A bounty
yellow harvest
honey gold
pitch fork daggers
blackened skies

It's beautiful
in colors that speak the language
greater than my own

Turbulence
elevates Beautiful
when all is wild
is unleashed
transforms to joy
when oil kneels to
turpentine behold

All that is Beautiful
becomes
when inside the folds
of this palette
is the salt
of the executioner's tears.

 

Hair

It's riveting to imagine one's life
evolved around hair
As a mother,
not a hairdresser
my day is consumed by hair

You see
my family sheds
and sheds dark hair
on white hot
ceramic tile

I've insisted I'd never have
such tile

Gathering
long tangles,
curly cues
and singular strands pronounced
as lighting bolts,
thickets of molten hair
from frenzied play
lap the kitchen floor
bathroom tiles
and refrigerator too.

The family hair
provides perpetual
labor

My arms remain handy waxed
by rhythm

retaining sacred space

I scowl now,
this frenzy I've created

Alerted,

if one less strand
were absent

I would think
to burrow

premeditated

inside the nest
I've harvested
before their flight.

 

Love in a Garden

If I can breathe fire into the night
steel white
my breastplate would break
into the thousand stories you threatened
me with as a child.

I can forgive you for leaving as soon
as you did
before the heavy rains fell
singing praises about you.

Your wrath reminds me of the flower gardens
I'd drive by, pressing my thoughts to pause,
on most hurried of days.

Envious of the Tender,
I'd suspect perpetual maintenance and concern.
Rows of proposed shoots and succulent blooms
plotted in detailed thought.

Once summer breaks,
a noticed malevolence assumes;
I'd take notice of the stock growing wild, ferocious
past the Zinnias, Sweet William and obedient
Sweet Alyssum.

Breaking order of initial ground,
the breed that reminds me of you,
looms over the garden in a bountiful madness,
discreet by beauty,
calling my name with the fragrance it emits
when Love-lies-bleeding
after the heavy rains.

 

One Daughter's Requiem

You taught me
that chopping parsley by blade
is the preference at hand,
ahead of tearing the sprigs
over a rolling pot of stock.

The blaze of stems
bleeding
over the woodwork,
is sufficient enough to cease
the penitent choir
of all the ancestors
you bemused.

The blade
in hand,
angled towards the cooking kindle
in hopes to douse
my anger by it's flames.

I watch the fibers
fuse beneath the broth.
Yellow, acrid
resembling the serum
that drained from your stagnant well.

Your night bell, left in arms reach
signaled no response,
allowing your cupboard to souse at peak.

I sip the broth hoping what streamed
from your sleep is the saline
that binds us.

What stings the most
is the plot of parsley growing wild
under your feet,
before you curled up
into my hands.
I cupped your ankles,
mangled and cloistered in the nut bowl shell
you left me.

I prayed to hold your heart
to my teeth
in hopes to taste the last salt of you.

 

Paladares

You write to me about Cuba like you want me to be there

"the old Cuba is not as you remembered
old dirty buildings, forgotten streets like dirty dishes
waiting for their owners to retrieve them…"

Will you come to see what it's yearning to become?

I'm reminded the new Cuba has been painted
once over with vibrant colors
pending to burst
voices searing to be heard
resilient now to the old demarcation.

Will Cuba be what I remembered it to be?

The air sultry, hot,
wthe fragrance of wild jasmine and perhaps something
forbidden always
ahead me?

You remind me in your letter Robert,
How the sun had evenly thawed my tension to raw
bliss

Days like my memory were spent seeping through the responsive waters
crawling underground through the lucid world of fish and coral life.

Ever thinking about the Cuba I wanted to go back to
to taste the homemade picadillos
tender
served scattered over steamed rice
with fried plantains

I wish I could be there too
with you
to arch my back
on the top floor of your family apartment
in the quiet morning while the house slept
and the steam of your mother's cooking
made it's way through the pores of the transparent ceiling
rising above to greet us.

 

Resurrection Bread

So I did what a girl in fear
would do

When the veil was stripped
and your earthly tent
collapsed

I took shelter
inside my father's mill

The familiar rocking
of the millstone
turning the creek flow
down river,
doused the panic of my guilt.

Returning home,
I used the milled grain
to knead bread of you
with the blood and water
that drained from your side

No one noticed
that I used my mouth
as a vessel
to carry part of you home.

I fold the consecrated serum
into the live grain
rolling and kneading the body of it
with palms anticipating

A cross stitched cloth
dampened
is left swaddled around
the budding dough.

We sit together,
watching the sea mimic
the pulse in my vein
while the yeast

arises

I leave the windows of this house
open,
so your fragrance

pleasing

will bring home the hungry.

 

Copyright © 2001-2003 by Ingar Brunnett

About the Author

Ingar Brunnett is a writer. She writes both often and well. She may also do other things, but those are less relevant.

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