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by Diane Wakoski |

This Beautiful Black Marriage

 Photograph negative
her black arm: a diving porpoise,
sprawled across the ice-banked pillow.
Head: a sheet of falling water.
Her legs: icicle branches breaking into light.

This woman, 
photographed sleeping.
The man,
making the photograph in the acid pan of his brain.
Sleep stain them both,
as if cloudy semen
rubbed shiningly over the surface
will be used to develop their images.

 on the desert
 the porpoises curl up,
 their skeleton teeth are bared by
 parched lips;
 her sleeping feet
 trod on scarabs,
 holding the names of the dead
 tight in the steady breathing.

 This man and woman have married
 and travel reciting
 chanting
 names of missing objects.

 They enter a pyramid.
 A black butterfly covers the doorway
like a cobweb,
folds around her body,
the snake of its body
closing her lips.
her breasts are stone stairs.
She calls the name, "Isis,"
and waits for the white face to appear.

No one walks in these pyramids at night.
No one walks during
the day.
You walk in that negative time,
the woman's presence filling up the space
as if she were incense; man walks 
down the crevices and
hills of her body.
Sounds of the black marriage
are ritual sounds.
Of the porpoises dying on the desert.
The butterfly curtaining the body,
The snake filling the mouth.
The sounds of all the parts coming together
in this one place,
the desert pyramid,
built with the clean historical
ugliness of men dying at work.

If you imagine, friend, that I do not have those
black serpents in the pit of my body,
that I am not crushed in fragments by the tough 
butterfly wing
broken and crumpled like a black silk stocking,
if you imagine that my body is not
blackened
burned wood,
then you imagine a false woman.

This marriage could not change me.
Could not change my life.
Not is it that different from any other marriage.
They are all filled with desert journeys,
with Isis who hold us in her terror,
with Horus who will not let us see
the parts of his body joined
but must make us witness them in dark corners,
in bloody confusion;
and yet this black marriage,
as you call it,
has its own beauty.
As the black cat with its rich fur
stretched and gliding smoothly down the tree trunks.
Or the shining black obsidian
pulled out of mines and polished to the cat's eye.
Black as the neat seeds of a watermelon,
or a pool of oil, prisming the light.
Do not despair this "black marriage."
You must let the darkness out of your own body; 
acknowledge it
and let it enter your mouth,
taste the historical darkness openly.
Taste your own beautiful death,
see your own photo image,
as x-ray,
Bone bleaching inside the blackening
flesh