When God demanded light,
I became light. Now no one knows
those mistakes only I could make.
It took that long to learn how wrong I was—
throwing my body against worlds I wanted.
I knew it was you the whole time. And yet,
love was a room I kept walking into.
Meanwhile, I’d gotten older. I’d grown.
I grew too fast. I never met, in me, the child.
But you knew this
was what I wanted:
an elegy to my small allotment of beauty.
After stepping into the world again,
you will weave your own self
to the river. I can tell you the old secrets—
and you say, yes, I will take you.
I should have made my way straight to you long ago.
Now I am someone’s muse,
an oracle done hiding at last. All the mystery made
of my song
a skirt of flames,
shaking singing ringing
high, how it ribbons in the wind—God,
it’s relentless, the way it keeps trying
to call us
into the blank.
to hide. I will spread myself
finger by finger into illumination.
The clouded light has changed to rain.
I have settled into myself. A sediment no longer clouds
the abyss of my insides, where I am,
& it’s the most joyous.
I carry joy as a choir sings,
warm so full of light.
I am weak with the desire to give more.
Isn’t that a wound?
To carry within us an orchard, to eat
like a startled bird,
like sound falling back into silence?
From now on I want to live
in spite of
the year of burying. I’m learning to live without. Time
of goldenrod and aster. And time where
we live on the unanswerable, assert
that everything changes, that
the beauty will find you. The meaning
may still come chasing in.
I will arrive at you:
a man of peculiar desire.
Brisket, smoked slow.
The bourbon and sugar and mint going down warm and brown, syrup and slow.
No, there’s something about a man who cooks. His
honey and thyme
a praise song. In the dream
where I learn the universe is an arrow,
I set myself free.
I have reconstructed everything.
Come to me, said the world.
I wanna rip you open,
you whom I’ve felt missing all this time —
The body is a nation I have never known.
I have never gone through that door,
but it must be easy to love.
My Lord. This is love.
I have seen you do it now & am certain I have my whole life
whittled down to love
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.
“Cento for the Day We Met” is comprised entirely of lines borrowed from the following poets (in order of appearance): Linda Pastan, Jonterri Gadson, W.S. Merwin, Meghan O’Rourke, Patricia Smith, Jenny Molberg, Ruth Awad, Grady Chambers, Kendel Hippolyte, Erika L. Sanchez, Linda Hogan, Rebecca Hazleton, January Gill O’Neill, Tiphanie Yanique, Traci Brimhall, Ellen Bass, Airea D. Matthews, Walt Whitman, Sally Wen Mao, Carl Phillips, Etheridge Knight, Yusef Komunyaaka, Jaki Shelton Green, Eric Tran, Jenny George, Jean-Paul de Dadelsen, Paisley Rekdal, Joseph O. Legaspi, Safiya Sinclair, C. Bain, Jay Hopler, Natalie Eilbert, Nathan Hoks, Rosebud Ben Oni, Linda Gregg, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Jean Toomer, Gregory Orr, Li-Young Lee, Karla Cordero, Larissa Szporluk, Rick Barot, Mary Jean Chan, Aricka Foreman, Nicole Terez Dutton, Justin Phillip Reed, Galway Kinnell, Kai Carlson-Wee, Yi Lei, Darcie Dennigan, David Welch, Kevin Young, Sheryl St. Germain, Rax King, Lucille Clifton, Molly McCully Brown & Susannah Nevison, Paige Lewis, Christiana Sobral, Nino Mick, Louise Glück, Caroline Bird, Katie Ford, Chris Abani, James Wright, Thylias Moss, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Jeremy Radin, Aria Aber, and Carol Ann Duffy.
Chelsea Bunn is the author of Forgiveness (Finishing Line Press, 2019). Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2018, The Ideate Review, Sky Island Journal, Dunes Review, and elsewhere. Born and raised in NYC, she lives in New Mexico, where she serves as Assistant Professor of Creative Writing for Navajo Technical University.
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