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Wislawa Symborska

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Male and Female
9 Nov 2021

Male and Female

Post by Rowena Hill

Read the SPANISH version

MALE AND FEMALE

This section is probably more than a little eccentric. The polarity of male and female, love as tension between the poles, the duality of myth and expectation dissolving.

My hair in your mirror
Was redder than the flowers.
A far will fed
The fire in the walls
And in my head.

Being and nothingness –
space where bodies
revolve, silence
between heartbeats.
Life and death –
exhalation
dissolution of tissues and images.
Yes and no.
Man and woman.
What virtues, values
voices can one assume
in the capacity
of zero.

Through the carbon fumes
of the livid afternoon
a cold current winds
from forest or sea bottom.
Behind eyes the poles
of male and female meet;
and buildings are tumid
in the effort to become
protoplasm and sprout.

The body can’t be kept
weightless and trim
like a horse’s legs
or as in childhood.
It has to bond,
first carried on the wave
of perpetual illusion
to multiply
then trying out
the variations of desertion
and fulfilment, risking
death from fragmentation.
And at the end, for survivors
on the iridescent border
between loneliness and union,
will there be the love of planets?


I had to desert myself,
shrink up to my battered ring wall
to see standing in the arena
of my desolation
this marvelous son.
His image rises
in the graveyard of the senses
and articulates in movement
the imperative of joy.

I shout at you from my blackened wall
but you go on
dancing behind the smoke
as perfect as ever.


Bull and Moon

Today in a kind sun
near the solstice I lay
in the warm grass watching the clouds
and the Mother stood beside me.
Earth of my earth, she said
and branch of my memory,
for wanting to share my pain
your pain will be lightened,
your eyes will be deeper…

The bull was her first son,
the one with dark limbs and the moon on his head,
beloved son and lover of her bed,
seed of flame in her mind
after the sacrifice,
forever she gives birth to him
and seeks him.

Now I know who you are,
young bull and why I’m bound to you.
For you I went searching
through streets flooded with moonlight
while dogs barked and the echo
swelled between the walls of a lost city.
It was you I found
in the chaos of fulfilment.

Flying with You in Mind

I yield to take-off
watching the earth spread
and the vast floor as it opens out
expands in me.
Burnt hillsides, ribbons of water,
steep cliffs and black gorges
are the matter
of sight;
you are light throbbing
over troughs of earth and shaking
with sudden rays
space itself.
The landscape seeks its limit
far over there at the approaching
horizon, at the white
line of salt where the sea
releases us separately
with eyes to see each other.

Perched on the rock we watch
the frenzied trees
and the showers playing
on the horizon.
I don’t understand the words
you sing, but the voice
is pure compassion; the rain
hearing you turns round
and rushes on us.
You don’t understand the words
I shout into the water: thanks
to god for fluids
fluids from the sky
fluids from the bottle
fluids from the body
of my friend, thanks.

In Dust

We disturb the silence
but this silence is composed
of sounds left behind by bodies
as transient as we are

and as steeped in the substance
of silence. I’m earth,
I sink into my mineral
ribs, your breathing

shakes the layers of silence
releasing voices – human?
bird chatter? rocks eroding?
You burst my vein and core –

the waves of sound erase me,
washing away loose shale
seedpods, thorns, fingernails
of the forgotten dead.

It’s too late to join the pieces
of my face. You fall
through the gaps into
the stream of sleep
scattering colours.
If you touch me, webs
of nerves sway
like the eucalyptus.
I can’t tell you from the sun.
Inside me, you
are profile of the cordillera;
I’m the hollow where
you sow my pleasure.

You are a sun
and I am not a planet,
I’m a star too
even if it’s a black hole.
It’s difficult, with my ignorance
of the sky, to deduce the image
of our encounter.
For a long time I’ve followed you
growing round in orbit.
Come now to my hollow.


Return to Myth

I aspire to the presence of Zen
the precise clarity of Cadenas,
I dress my head’s journeys
in everyday images
common things and places
a coherent grammar
even in dreams
but They appear
the characters in the seasonal story
and implant their ancient drama
in today’s commotion,
they fracture my eyesight
demand variable forms
sudden mood changes
doubtful distinctions
between truth and lies.


LOOKING FOR THE SON

Two thousand years since the West’s last savior
no son is born to replace his stinking corpse.
The mother persists but tired and hardened
a dry reed or shriveled breast.
Can she give birth again?

Spasms in an old body
the bones creak
the skin crawls and stretches
the face is a mask of pain
the lungs strain to hold the air
to keep the blood flowing
into the belly
which is empty and flabby
to clot and mold a creature
something new a miracle
hope out of decay
but faith and muscles fail
no son is born.

Light meshes
the ray pierces the shady
tranquil pool
seeks and sets alight the germs
of possible lives.

The earth lies open
to the lusty teasing
of sun that creases her skin
to the irrigation of rain
twin fathers
who quicken her seeds,
gestation is sudden or slow,
among the familiar faces
sprouting will there be one
that renews the lineage?

Mister buzzard on the rooftree
listen to me please,
make the stone in your nest
hatch and a different being
emerge and rise
on splendid wings above the globe
a prince of peace
or go and find a rabbit
couple with her,
a son with fur and feathers
your eyes and her ears
will bring us new fire.


Christ child

He’s born every year
in the warmth of the crib
among candles and berries,
to the fervent singing
he stands up in majesty.
He’s born in their hearts
they kiss his toes
he’s a moment’s star.
No one tells the steps
he might take in the world
laborers’ cheer
pillar of the future.

Lament for the lesser sons

The male on their altars
is a miscreation
a bull with leaden balls
and crumpled horns
cross-eyed and deaf.
Obeying him they starve
thousands of children, silence the women
pull out the teeth of truth-sayers,
they long for a penis heaven
and they will never know peace.
Traitors to their heritage
even their mothers abhor them,
they will eat shame and dust.

Maria La Onza

Protector of waters
and wild creatures
arbiter of sky forces
on the mountain
when the sun was not enough
to light the roads
nor the blessing of the moon
to quench thirst
you renewed your name
for a warrior daughter
Maria Lionza goddess
for an age of shadows.
She receives the wounded
in hillside caves
on graveyard tombs
in the rust of tin shacks
she sees how their hurts
sharpen and blacken
their fierce bitterness
and gives them courage.
The mother persists
in her earthly eternity,
the daughter looks after the web
of overpowering life.


Change of guard

The figures that have strutted
for millennia on the stage
of ancestral memory
are losing solidity.
The tough-bodied males
lose weight and flesh
their shields fall on the ground
and with the echo they vanish.
The subject women
bound to men by grief
and the urge to revenge
sink in their own reflections.
Far inside the clay
of the aboriginal dream
a cave expands
a nest of lights
a creature is formed
source of itself
beautiful and fierce
dark and luminous
it prepares to burst
into space.
A new order is beginning
and the Daughter will rule it.

Read the SPANISH version

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