Go wild. Not with plastic beads and endless spirits — though, sure, do that if you want to. But after, maybe, when you’re working off the high, wanting to get into another kind of transcendence, go wild. Ask Lehua M. Taitano’s “Low Mountain Lake Song”. It’ll tell you. Better, it’ll take you by the hand and lead you down to the water.
Taitano’s poem could fit on the back of a postcard. It’s built from the kind of brevity I find illuminating in its capacity. A toehold in this poem grants the kind of purchase that allows you to take in the scenery, to sing with the bullfrogs, to observe the terrapin’s easeful gambol towards the rushes. Who says the pastoral’s got to be idyllic? You could go verdant and chatter-quieted into the bush of this poem, but that’s only one of its routes, only one of its ways of shaping itself on the page.
Witness the intention, here: drink in the precise, rounded grafting of each word, each clustering of images, onto the great tree of the poem-world. “At night, this side of things is settled without the memory of ache. / Even the shallows are pregnant.” In this way, the poem showcases an understanding not only of peace, but of the swell before peace, the bruise after it. We receive a diorama here, of a human struggle we’ve been taking to nature for all our brief, capricious lives. The poem traces the long, mottled cloth of all our grappling in the deep waters, rinses us without liberating us from our misdeeds.
I am at more than peace in this lake, knee-deep and shivering with light, cracked open and bleeding my nastiness incrementally into the wound of the world. So do we all. So too does the world accept us, mercifully.
This is the twentieth installment of Here for the Unicorn Blood, a Queer POC Poetry Reader which runs from June 1 – June 30. Historically, June commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, heralded as the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. #PrideMonth’s global significance, its unabashed celebration of queerness, its marshalling of non-heteronormative joy, resistance and tenacity, motivates this close reading series, which specifically engages the work of POC Queer Poets, in international space. People of colour have been vital to queerness before queerness had a name: this is one way to witness that, to embed my reading practice in it, and to raise my brown, queer fist in yes.