Monday, April 20, 2015

Walk Off!

My People, The River

Nobody says who owns this sand,
So I stole it, for us. No boundaries
For us; every day it's a new line
To cross. Swagger, sword: I stake my claim
Slant and watch it wash away with the next storm.
Every day there's a new story,
Another song and dance. Here by the water
You can't tell if we're daughters or sons,
Demons or thieves. Twenty-five years
Is long enough for us, my family.

Prostitutes and kabuki performers used to live on the riverbanks with the trash that washed up, because the land was always shifting so no one could own it. Kabuki is said to have originated with women performing with a lot of swagger, playing men's roles as well as women's. Then it became popular and moved into the brothels, then it became so dangerous only men were allowed to do it. Kabuki and the Edo superstars all come out of this kind of outlaw swagger. "25 years" is a reference to the inscription on the sword of too-fast-to-live Otori Ichibei.

And tell me this is not the perfect day for the surreal-est of punk poets Megan Volpert to be the judge!

The prompt was a title of "My [blank], the [blank]."

Image: Okuni, said to be the first Kabuki performer. They say she also invented the fashion runway.


Slothrop said...

Along w/ your usual word magic you've staked out a perfect metaphor. How better to express the outlaw life of the "marginalized" than w/ an image of shifting real estate? Clinging to the edge, where truth & gender blur & even commerce loses its purchase. (Sorry, I just had to.) You're as inspirational as ever.

I wonder if you've seen what the tides have done to Cape Hatteras, particularly in Buxton? Hundreds of feet of beach lost in a couple of decades. Residents refuse to relinquish their deeds to lots a thousand feet out in the ocean; pay taxes on them every year. Because someday the Man's going to dredge them out, right?

When I was 16 I took a nighttime walk down the coast w/ my brother, past the Cape Hatteras lighthouse to a lonely stretch of beach. Suddenly a figure appeared ahead of us, raising a cry. Dozens of people began charging out of the water & throwing towels around themselves. It took an embarrassing amount of time for me to realize that the crying figure was a lookout. And that all of these people were naked.

No boundaries!

Maria Padhila said...

I haven't been to hatteras in more than 30 years. I camped up and diwn that coast one summer alone. I would like to see it again. And thank you, as always...

Slothrop said...

I've been going there almost every summer since I was a toddler. Meaning, like, 1970. My 1st memories of it were of a deserted coast dotted w/ tiny Southern towns where you would find clapboard stores decorated w/ giant Pepsi bottle caps. I remember when the 1st t-shirt shops & Hawaiian Ice stands moved in. Best memory ever was camping in a small tent on Ocracoke Island. Just wind, stars & sea.