Aïcha Martine Thiam
the mistress of talking in circles
there’s nothing worse than soggy ramen, i replied, and you took it
as evidence of my characteristic flippancy. had you let me finish,
i’d have continued my analogy: there’s nothing worse than good things
left to stew, stew, stew until they pickle into ghosts of themselves.
as in: i the soup, you the ramen, i will ruin you if you stay, and all that noise.
there. it’s on the nose, not my best metaphor, but one you’d have understood
had you been less angry. once, you called me the mistress of talking in circles
and though i chuckled (“i have OCD, you bastard”), it was so as not to wail.
my bad. i’ve been called punctilious, easily distracted by the minutiae,
chasing tails like bloodsport. you’ve made yourself dizzy at my flank.
when you told me you were leaving you said it’s for my best i countered
happy for you, weighing and appraising all the future hurts, hands clasped,
going double file down your marrow for days. another thing you once
told me: i have, sometimes, a mean way of saying things. with a laugh.
sort that makes folk wish they’d never implored me to speak up.
laconic me. these innervations, they rarely get an outlet, so
when they do, mad-dash, slapdash, toes stumbling on toes:
gracelessness downs the apology. i forget the adequate cry,
the suitable words of atonement. i ain’t shit. want nothing more than to
plead i beg you i beg you and no. but i just laugh and laugh instead.
When Sound Came to the Movies
That is what it must have felt like
the experience a concussive wave;
for many, a thrill and then some,
for others a thrill pre-calling trouble;
this cavity inside me it is a panicle
that binds to all other transmutations
of sadness, a sort of hunger-whitenoise,
live wire when touched. See it, you’ll
believe it, they said. I tried and tried,
crouched against ramparts on dusky days,
trying to pin the bird mid-flight.
At last I entertained the umbral thought,
and the wing, castoff, struck me in the eye,
and the flame went straight for my hand.
The way it comes ashore in you is proof
of the fact: you still don’t get it.
A word sets it off and you’re left reeling;
saffron-colored sky corners remind you of her
wax print gown. You are cast back there
when whiffs of braised red snappers rip
your restful childhood right out of you.
Although silent, the Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat,
would have found me stupefied in my seat, juggling
maddening chasms like: it hurts + it is the truth.
A secret: there is no chasm, never has been.
I hope this serves in any way.
I hope someone else displaced
like me can read into this and say
yes, that, exactly that feeling.
Had I asked her, before she died, she’d have said:
Think about the universe.
Think of all the ways in which
it has tried to make you see yourself.
How dare you turn your back from it
try to dim its sound,
and call it cruel?