from Chimera

Phoebe Giannisi



in the beginning was the field. plots of earth
from rain and the elements
by footsteps
the cursive of animals and people.  
valleys streams and across


in the beginning was the field.
in order to migrate I had to gather
I had to cull.
the things.
the things the animals the things the things.

– what do you carry with you when you leave?
– my dark. my own scintilla of dark.
– what do you carry when you leave?
– the marks on the body.
– what do you carry when you leave?
– for -got -tenact -ions -for -got -tenwor -ds
fragme -ntsof -theformer -life
tokeep -as -tal -isman -tokeep -as -newre -dcru -cifix.


Kiatra kraapa omlou nou kriapa.
A stone breaks a man does not break.

– Still.
the fragments are glass
pressed deep under skin
and traveling in the flesh
choosing their own paths
one ascends to the heart
another pierces your abdomen

What does God cast down that the earth does not swallow?

– Wound through and through.
I spat it from my mouth like a bitter seed
but not a single teardrop touched my cheek
why I had for years now
clenched my teeth.

You cannot eat a stone mother says
instead of
you cannot escape your fate

– in order to leave
I had to choose things.
that agony lasted months.
an entire winter.
heavy and dark it strips layer by layer
the vessels of memory.
still. what hurt most was what
for many years
had been slipping between my fingers like air.
what had been forgotten.
the empty.
what had not happened.

Yet see with your mind the absent as present with certainty, Parmenides says.

Prelude (To the Tao Way)

each spring I give again the burial of myself
I bury the others the previous springs
I bury this spring which is not like the rest
I bury myself in spring
I crawl inside my body in summer
I tear from the desiccated hide of autumn
and winter stubbornly to insist the ghost
of my compulsion.
yes. winter would have complete freedom
existence in the vast expanse
of Mongolian highlands the gallop
of long-haired horses the words
of singers from another season storytellers
like when at the end of winter in the fatigue the exhaustion
of daily regimen
a star flashes suddenly in the sky
of the cup of wine we are drinking
in solitude together
and the star’s glint leading us astray
down old paths driving us to open once more
we owe this opening. The paths nearly closed
from branches and ferns.
owing the abandonment.
again and again each year we bury
what once lived here and leave it
a carapace its shape an only carapace
each different but multiple
we bury it with ritual in the weeds leave it shining
the stalk of dry weed we pulled out 
we bury it in the sand we toss it in the sea
on the road we meet women with bouquets
wildflowers in their hands eyes abstracted.
slowly and tortuously we begin to clear the roads.
lying in the middle space of the half-opened
beneath the earth in myriad bloods sleeps the spring.

translated from the Greek by Brian Sneeden