becoming legible

“The enclosers and the enclosed knew each other, walked the same paths, and were connected by multiple relations. And the fear that consumed them was fueled by the proximity of their lives and the possibility of retaliation.”
— Silvia Federici, “Witches, Witch-Hunting, and Women”

there is something about
learning the names of things
(people, places)
that brings them alive in your consciousness

the yellow-leafed bush out back,
which i just learned the name of
by asking the farmer’s mother,
is called Forsythia.

i now see it everywhere
when so easily
i could’ve not noticed
all spring

having been “introduced,”
it is possible for me to see.

similarly, learning
via Ken Burns’ documentary
on the Civil War,
about the honor and love
so many in the south have
for Robert E. Lee
helped me to realize
how i’d grown up
with the confederacy
all around me

without knowing it

a park i used to visit in my hometown,
beloved by queer Dallas-ites like me,
— “Lee Park” —
had been named after
the confederate general

i hadn’t known

i’m thinking, too, about myself
as a 44 year old woman
— grey hair multiplying steadily
body changing
skin becoming textured —
thinking about every way i am still
learning the lessons
of the last 3 years
of NAPOWRIMO projects:
what is of value.
invisible labor.
feminized work.
dismissal of the domestic,
of the fleshly earth,
right atop it’s foundationality in our lives.

the wind howls as the daffodils
reach themselves out
in what sun they can get
— ivory & marigold —
on a snow-blasted April day

thinking witch hunts, enclosure
thinking bitterness of
the damned & forsaken

what it has always cost us
to reproduce ourselves
even when rendered mute

i’m careful not to name the veins
on the face of Forsythia’s petals
— i’ve been trained that
it’s unkind
to notice the texture
of a woman’s face —
but i like the look of them, still

the line is jagged
& incomplete
perforated along ghost edge

we can
love on one another
through
the body ritual

we can
use our flesh
to feel for the flesh
that is dis-integrating

feel for the dead

feel for the decomposed

feel for ancestral presence

reality of mineral body
in chthonic ground

(their ceiling/our floor)

the boundaries of the dead & the dying
the way we shed virus
absorb trace minerals
farm soil
then eat bits of it
on hastily-washed salads

they want to come back inside of us & they do

i’m learning about my ancestors
who fought on both sides of the Civil War

there is a movement of folks
bent on preserving battle sites.
this is not strange to me
since i love to notice
what has come before
but i wonder
— do these same people
know/care/acknowledge
that these are also
simultaneously
indigenous lands?

the war was mostly fought by
protestant farmers,
white men in their 20's

this was true on both sides

and i, a woman,
allergic to the logic of enclosure
feel it in my breasts
— the inaudible crying out
of the bodies of said farmers
who jumped ship
from Europe to this land
after their mothers/lovers/selves
had been burned

unable to face it & mourn

& so, doomed to repeat it,
came here
only to muffle
a connected suffering

Forsythia is often called
the Easter Tree,
a symbol of the coming spring

cyclic opportunity
for trying again

as we must

This piece is the first in a series, Climacteric: On the Turning Point, a poetic collaboration for National Poetry Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo) by Samantha Wallen and Michelle Puckett. To read the next poem in the series, click here.

Michelle Puckett, MFA is a poet, doula, permaculturalist, coach and Co-Founder of Creating Freedom Movements, a social justice school for activists. All of her work aims to nourish the sacred and make it plain in every day life.

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