Song for Discharming

Denise Sweet

“Hear the voice of my song – it is my voice
I speak to your naked heart.”  Chippewa Charming Song

Before this, I would not do or say what impulse
rushes in to say or do
what instinct burns within
I had learned to temper in my clever sick
while stars unlocked at dawn, anonymous as the speed of light
my gray mornings began as nothing, freed of geography
and stripped of any source or consequence.
I was as you may expect, a human parentheses.
There is no simple way to say this,
but drift closer, Invisible One, swim within this stream
of catastrophic history. Yours? Mine?
No, you decide. Then come here

one more time so that I may numb like dark
and desperate, so that I may speak your name this final round
you might think an infinite black fog waits to envelope me
you might dream an endless flat of light
you might think I drink at the very edge of you
cowering while hawks hunt the open fields
of my tiny wars.

But, little by little, like centipedes that whirl and spin
and sink into the scorching sands of Sonora
or like gulls at Moningwanakaning that rise and stir
and vanish into the heat lightning of August
I will call you down and bring you into that deathly coil
I will show you each step and stair

I will do nothing and yet it will come
to you in this way: that sorcery that swallowed me
will swallow you too, at your desired stanza
and in a manner of your own making.

While I shake the rattle of ferocity, moments before sunrise
while I burn sage and sweetgrass, and you, my darling,
while I burn you like some ruined fetish, and sing over you
over and over like some almighty voice from the skies,

it is in that fragile light that I will love you
it is in that awakening that I will love myself too.
In this dry white drought about to end
in this ghostly city of remember

You will know this too
and never be able to say.

Moningwanakaning: (OJB) Madeline Island, one of the Apostle
Islands, Lake Superior, Great Lakes region.

Denise Sweet is a graduate of UW-Eau Claire, faculty emerita for the UW-System and  former Poet Laureate of Wisconsin. Her fifth book of poetry, Palominos Near Tuba City, will be released in the spring of 2018. This poem originally appeared in Songs for Discharming, and is reprinted here with permission of the author.

Press and hold the up/down arrows to scroll.