for Cecilia Vicuña

This is my shop where the black wheel turns with greasy knob and heavy glove

My waist is never this circular and insistent, it stops whenever you stop
whenever you leave to check water-pressure that rises
with the Passaic coming down faster after a good storm’s
protest, claiming the world its own

My chest is always uneasy with clouds
of filament seeping through clenched teeth
to form tightly woven bandages around air that bursts when I cough
breaking my lungs’ thin tissue

Must this happen when I love you
more than the strength of chains pulling bales of cotton
when I become lost in the ecstatic spools that spin spin
like an underground press writing love poems to the long-faced regime

Who over sees the over-seer and must I cut my hair

Semi-roused this revolution I begin is for desire

So that the daily aprons are replaced by the seamless mechanics of the sun
entering and leaving all parts of the city, a national manufactory of bodies
turning away from the wheel and towards each other until they explode
with frayed ends like that sudden rupture from mother’s stare

And you glossy-tipped enter my room with dust in your mouth
smoky hair and skin with brown oil, a gray lover
never clean enough for the white sheets we never cease weaving
searching for the quiet origins of the piston and the smooth interlocking of teeth

I am flax with cracked shell, I am being pulled through combs over and over
perfectly shrinking through the eye of the machine’s miracle needles inching in
and out in and out of braids, becoming smaller to wind myself around bobbins
the product of post-colonial water application

I must keep you above the clamor/inside the endless motion/on the tips of my fingers

My fertile imagination conceives a great manufacturing center

My legs and your legs forming twine that never snaps
independent of the process, faster than the eye, tight and fiber-less
repaired instantly between waxy digits, forming tapestries never to be worn
thin in the usual manner: no cloth for daily needs, no rag for the usual forehead

You would be water-power to turn the mill wheels and I the navigable river to carry
string us back
thread to pre-woven
fiber earth language
filament of knots
twine heaven-tied
cord nature flexible
yarn interpreting
linen our looming
cotton bodies

Lying face to face, irrepressible and shameless along these Great Falls of Paterson

:: Rosa Alcala, in Beloit Poetry Journal (49:4, Summer 1999)

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