[to find myself not-woman is an incantation]
to find myself not-woman is an incantation of garlic. in every cactus i carve my mother's name. boundaries and blossoms, the caw of a crow. a dog eats my bike shorts. i curse 9 lives. in masafer yatta, stolen tents and battered pipelines. utopia and dystopia are mangled kite string.
i want to be satisfiable, i tell my lover.
to receive care from the plum tree, to attend to the pussy willow. to wash my cancer-weary frame in a rusted bathtub caked with mold. to dawn the fire of contentment.
place a kumquat in the hands of Jerusalem: something round, something small to tear at for pith.
“[to find myself not-woman is an incantation]” from BETWEEN EVERY BIRD, OUR BONES: by emet ezell.
Published by Newfound in 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by emet ezell.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
emet ezell is a community organizer, public song leader, and poet. They are the author of Between Every Bird, Our Bones (Newfound 2022), which was selected by Chen Chen as winner of the 2021 Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize. A Puschart Nominee, emet has been awarded support from the Vermont Studio Center and their most recent work appears in: Mizna, Waxwing, Muzzle Magazine, and the Southern Humanities Review. Rooted in diaspora, emet makes home between Berlin, Germany and the US South.
"Here is a poet who understands that sometimes the surreal is the best way to the real."
“Ezell shows us again and again that within the specific and luminous detail lies the truth, beauty, history, and violence of the entire world. This poet traffics so deftly between desire, the body, sovereignty, critiques of settler colonialism, medicalization, illness, and family, that the reader is somehow convinced we have just read a book instead of something much older and still breathing."
“Ezell achieves lyric poetry’s highest purposes: pushing back against the dehumanizing forces of medicalization, geopolitical oppression, economic anxiety, isolation, and distilling them, phrase by phrase, image by image, heartbreak by heartbreak, into glimpses of a deeply lived life that reveals the painful glory of being human.
"These fragments are set in the inner logic of dreams: each with their precious hearts and harsh edges, the clinical cold of an MRI chamber and love touching fingers through fences. The result is breathtaking."
—Aurora Levins Morales