February 13, 2020

Watching You from a Moving Platform

 

MISCARRIAGE

I.

I am on earth

you are
red milk

leaked

across
Galaxies 

 

II.

I am watching                                        

your death

from a moving platform

you are in

retrograde
traveling backward

against the

backdrop of the sky
my axis is tilted with

                                                     Why am I punished?

the sun commanding my orbit
into endless anniversaries

of your passing
Through.

 

III.

You are a star

a luminous sphere of
You were my mother.

embraced by gravity

anchored in darkness.

 

NOWHERE TO TRAVEL

For Ground Zero

What kind of frame is this Oculus?
an ennerviated cunt
Mary’s aureole
stitched together
a relentless whiteness
convexed
into 3 dimensions

There is no room for Mary
in the aureole
there is the worship of objects
we ourselves cannot create
Capitalism never allowed
for immaculate conception

I think of Jenny Santos
who believed she was flying
one February
on the escalator rail before she died
and wonder what she dared
to pray to
Fluorescence?
The inverted image of death?
Without light at the end of the tunnel
It needles you from all sides

The cold reaches through
the ground to claim me
my eyes begin to hurt
Are my tears a project
of the nation state?
A patriotic gesture?

 

WHITE SHOELACES

We are the only black family
in a dining car of a southbound train
across the Shasta pass to California

white children stare at us
with breakfast chewing in their mouths
small fingers peeling the skin
of fruit grown below the border

I watch them
like clusters of nervous mice
my brother makes small piles
of salt and pepper on the table cloth. 

Are different kinds of white folk
my father says slowly like fog horns
I had heard on the coast that summer
they were warnings that came out
big barrel chests keeping ships
off rocks that were invisible at night
I looked up and he was quiet.

Outside the window are branches
bending from the storm that swept
the pass twelve hours before us
I wonder which white folk
are like the snow
covered pines on the mountain

or like the apron our waitress wears
bleached but smeared
with coffee grounds and catsup

maybe these whites
are more brittle
like the shells of my hard boiled eggs

maybe I am wrong about it
maybe whites are soft to touch
like the space around my own dark pupils
what if it’s white
like light on deep water
I want to ask.

My father is frowning now that the waitress
Hasn’t been back to the table for a while.
I look down at my shoelaces
white like the neighbor
that unclips his pit bull
when my brother and I walk by
each afternoon
I am worried
“Papa?” I ask
“Which kind can I play with?”

 

HOW TO MAKE LOVE IN A POEM 

hydrangeas do not pillow the forest
it is an affront
to the sleeping mare
but to blame this
on a paprika moon
would not be honest
(the canopy murmured
with jasmine light)
so
we walk
this adagio
a mist
which softens the arm
of the pine


 

In Watching You from a Moving Platform, Indira Allegra considers the shifting terrain of their understanding of whiteness as a mystery, construction, abstraction, and curiosity through poems which span thirteen years of her career — Miscarriage, White Shoelaces, Nowhere to Travel, and How to Make Love in a Poem performed in SFMOMA’s White Box.

Performance, voice & video post-production: Indira Allegra

Photo and video credit: Lindsay Tunkl

Audio production: Avery Trufelman

Text: Miscarriage and White Shoelaces by Indira Allegra. Nowhere to Travel and How to Make Love in a Poem co-written by Indira Allegra and Avery Trufelman

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