Rigorous
Volume Four, Issue 4



Slow, Fruit

Sylvia Nasreen Chowdhury


There are pigeons who think they’re crows & crows that think they’re souls that sit atop the hospital & bicker all night about who they belong to. It does not occur that no one wants them. White coats switch out for black ones without a tulle in sight. The scene does not make sense no matter how ordinarily we go about it.


When I watch birds on bad days I pity them & when I’m worse the schemes get plotted which all end in my own joining. A subterfuge to outdo the present tense, a family working its way in from the explosion. Nothing is the way I remember & so equally I remember nothing.




From this distance terror blends into the reign of landscape, survival impulse, one bleak mass of undignified color. And on this field of blankets I am a dark spot still convinced a stain is a legacy.


Somewhere a ground has never been touched,


—and there was balance, when I framed you, when the knees gave out from the holding of the vessel, we pooled on the floor, my hand in the tripe, like I could tend to your damage, cut & regroup, make sense of flesh by a natal fixation, saw, how I resembled both halves, two calyx fit together, caging a hollow—I’ll try - - - not to lose myself - - - to know you - - - how I become- - - want to know - - - how to become - - - what I want -





I think about

two kinds of screaming: screaming at & screaming from then about the training of doctors, cops, lifeguards towards the cues of pain, screams, kick, to administer their job. I do not yet know removal, only absence. The first principle of help, that first one must not endanger the self was lost in translation or, I pretended not to hear it. I jumped in head-first in gesture and in gibberish and prayed through the flailing for the language of drowning, reaching out one hand without thinking about saving, and being surprised at yourself, at the other too, somehow trampled and buoyed by, weightless and limbless in water,


In every oath there is an act of violence, a flint leaning towards yes or no. One body, a virus and war zone. One room, contracting on the beginning of our goodbyes.


But—at the crux of a future with only impending loss, I clung to you, made the sickbed ours, mopped your face of sweat like a rind I touched you & saturated, set a place at the table, hoped you would rise, made your favorite, superstitiously thought I had some leverage, while I was doing better





Before you,

There was faith


There was faith & science & the engulfment of
resemblance. You maintain eye contact while it hurts,
you mirrored who you wanted to love, you prayed so
hard you were sure the rest could feel it


What is wanting? Oracles,


             A mural of oracles. Oral miracles.
A moment in which my regret may hover.
A dark & lascivious gestating garden.
A growth in my spine that gives me a secret.
Ice thorns & weapon I need my body to melt.

I dig. Out the evidence from under nailbed,
one swift action, flute, a Pleistocene split,
pulled the plug, root from ground,
to free a rat to breathe,
as if, as if our small bout
was enough, to go against
the clock, to out-do it
for a spit,



Running off floodwater
ashes built a landscape
one high peak
as the sides collapse



I am preparing like
a mother should



the heart one burnished
muscle like a negative form
a mud elevation, I raise &
hold you & drink from,
filling


Give me,
all the material I need
to build myself
my birth
back,

bound to
trying, my poor
body purges
what it doesn’t know
             to name




                                       Leave me,                    Leaver
                                                                              Lover
                                                                              bitter refusal


                                                                 Withouts are all the same






Overture


I take vows. I measure my self in the arm-span of better ghosts. Were these meant to be ruins? The way air touches stone tells what I might never understand, there is space we can’t fill, the pistil & its outgrowth, colors I’ve never had once that I dream of



There was a lot we couldn’t master.


Words on the page that didn’t add up


but your scripture was so pretty &
reminded you of your parents


             halfway, imprecise,


easier to rely on than the contortion of
the face.








             You looked
longingly at the situation,



one day you were
about to receive
the quiet you needed—


you thought
you’d have the courage
by now,
to be lonely

             I forget to call
             I should have
             I say
             I am guilty of
             believing
             I was
             no longer
             unlucky




             at first
             I was told
             I was free,
             yet instead I
             festered
             in the open air
             of missed intentions




             I didn’t have the energy then




             I thought I had the time


             I thought I had the language





In the non-judgment of
a shower stall I practice
hypophonics,
             jodi ami
bolthepari thayle

             if I could just
bring myself
             to say it




I try to remember
every word
in a language
I am afraid of
forgetting


ceshṭa, bisshash, aste


try to believe,

             slowly

this thing my body
is giving back to me




In a gallery
on the otherside
I have more
courage,

I think

I try out
my heritage again

& say
to her

isn’t it
funny


How the word
in our language

for women & dirty
are so close?



She berates me for
not knowing,

my miscommunication

& at least in that,


there is laughter.



I have not listened closely

& I am learning my limits
with age, to not ask

foolish questions


the worst curse really
for a writer is
to get it wrong,
to be told there is


no reconciliation
for your memories
at the least


my inclinations

my understanding

that there is sense
beyond reason,


in the register
of sound

& the shape
your mouth
makes when
you hold it,




if nothing else

I’ve provided

a poetic
continuity

that has
served

my defense

for years



Sylvia Nasreen Chowdhury: "I study the relationship between language and power and the transformational qualities of discourse. At the center of my artistic and intellectual practice is the study of liberation—what natural, synthetic, animate, and inanimate entities do under circumstances that allow them to move, behave and react freely. I received a B.A from The Evergreen State College with a triple emphasis in humanities and education, literature, and expressive arts. Raised in NYC, I moved to the Olympic Rainforest in 2016."




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