Thank you to everyone who joined for this session!
For this session we close read “Manhattan is a Lenape Word” by Natalie Diaz, posted below.
Our prompt for this session was: “Write about where you are.”
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“Manhattan is a Lenape Word” by Natalie Diaz It is December and we must be brave. The ambulance’s rose of light blooming against the window. Its single siren-cry: Help me. A silk-red shadow unbolting like water through the orchard of her thigh. Her, come—in the green night, a lion. I sleep her bees with my mouth of smoke, dip honey with my hands stung sweet on the darksome hive. Out of the eater I eat. Meaning, She is mine, colony. The things I know aren’t easy: I’m the only Native American on the 8th floor of this hotel or any, looking out any window of a turn-of-the-century building in Manhattan. Manhattan is a Lenape word. Even a watch must be wound. How can a century or a heart turn if nobody asks, Where have all the natives gone? If you are where you are, then where are those who are not here? Not here. Which is why in this city I have many lovers. All my loves are reparations loves. What is loneliness if not unimaginable light and measured in lumens— an electric bill which must be paid, a taxi cab floating across three lanes with its lamp lit, gold in wanting. At 2 a.m. everyone in New York City is empty and asking for someone. Again, the siren’s same wide note: Help me. Meaning, I have a gift and it is my body, made two-handed of gods and bronze. She says, You make me feel like lightning. I say, I don’t ever want to make you feel that white. It’s too late—I can’t stop seeing her bones. I’m counting the carpals, metacarpals of her hand inside me. One bone, the lunate bone, is named for its crescent outline. Lunatus. Luna. Some nights she rises like that in me, like trouble—a slow luminous flux. The streetlamp beckons the lonely coyote wandering West 29th Street by offering its long wrist of light. The coyote answers by lifting its head and crying stars. Somewhere far from New York City, an American drone finds then loves a body—the radiant nectar it seeks through great darkness—makes a candle-hour of it, and burns gently along it, like American touch, an unbearable heat. The siren song returns in me, I sing it across her throat: Am I what I love? Is this the glittering world I’ve been begging for? From Postcolonial Love Poem (Graywolf Press, 2020) by Natalie Diaz. Copyright © 2020 by Natalie Diaz.