Two poems by Carson Faust • Empty Mirror

the Douglas Fir at 850 yearsThe Douglas Fir at 850 Years / credit: de

[As described by settlers in the early 70s]:

[My parents and grandparents were not from this area.] Call me home. However many

mothers ago. It only hurt when they unstitched the skin, right? Hollowed it out. When

they took so many names, and fed them to the dogs. [A white congregation always

resisted my references to them as individuals with names.] I dream that I’m being

baptized. The pastor holds me underwater. The water bends the faces looking down.

Light is how God lies to us. [They did not seem to consider them to be Indians.] Tell me

who I am. Tell me something better than the truth. [but rather a mixed racial group of

White and Negro.] If I open this skin, fall out of myself, will you see we are the

same? Will you see that we are both monsters? [There were also some attitudes of fear

for personal safety when among them.] When I looked at my skin as a child, all I saw

was meat. [These folks houses were small and some of them had that smell of poverty

that’s hard to describe.] Let my scent be carried. Bring it to the wolves. [There were

physical disabilities which were possibly from intermarrying.] Look for the pieces.

[My parents and grandparents were not from this area.] I am brighter beneath this

skin. I beg to be seen. Like the sun as it falls. Blood comes up from the horizon.

Crawling from Mother’s Wound

My body, predawn
and featherweight. A naked palm, a coffin.
Film to milk to rotted leaves.
Hands reaching. Skin
untouchable.

Paper-thin, half-dead, mixed-blood.

Touch is the the first sight
we are given. I enter the world blind.

Unsheathe me, boy. See what I am
hungry for and drag it to the table.
Can you see how I have gone without
milk? My mother, undrained.

Never longed for what comes
from woman. Give me what comes from man.

Father, lover, cast
to the stones. Callous me
so the meat of me can’t flower.
Teach me to hunt. To kill,
to gut. I watch you ruin
the breath in small things.
Break beasts down
into pieces that can be carried
on our backs.
But even rough hands
come apart.

Reckoning. Count the ships
that have wrecked on this shore, following
the dead compass of starlight.

Cracked earth, scorched
field. Sex mirror-sharp
and exact as rot. There is no fertile
ground here, but we build
as if it’s holy.

Cast me out. Let violence
become lovesong. The garden
burdened by crooked teeth.
Weakened by rainfall. Cast me
away, and I will find shelter
in another man who will open
wounds in all my forgotten
landscapes. Who will bleed me
in all my forgotten tongues.

About Carson Faust

Carson Faust is an enrolled member of the Edisto Natchez-Kusso tribe of South Carolina. His writing is forthcoming from Foglifter Press. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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