the universe begins

sometimes I’ve a taste for appreciating the expressions of other people.  my prior post, the visual water poem of Monterey Bay acted to remind me and want to recall a poem done years ago.
I hear voices in this poem.

this is a Cento poem, an assembly of another writers words, actually two other writers in this specific instance.  only Cento rule, no changes to the text taken from the other source (use as is).  here, while reading, imagine two different voices, each speaking their lines to you (italics vs no italics), with perhaps even a third, speaking the chorus parts (prolog, interlude, etc.).  your ear will add more dimension that way.

the universe begins with an empty face because

(being a poem in two voices and a chorus)



    The woman and the man dreamed that God was dreaming about them.

We were laying on her bed with a mohair blanket covering us.
In places where there was nothing, the seventh day put soil; the eighth plunged its hands and feet in the soil.

The first sun, the watery sun, was carried off by the flood.

That night, there was a full moon encircled by ice crystals.

She was dying in the same way she was living, consciously.   All that lived in the world became fish.   I kept expecting Mother to appear.

When women were birds, we knew otherwise.
The thunder birds left the little girl in the fork of a tree.   “You’ll live here,” they told her.

I will say it is so: My mother’s voice is a lullaby in my cells.

“We’ll come every time you sing.”

Her absence became her presence.

No one will be able to sleep, nor to keep secrets, and every body will know who is people, who is bird, and who is beast of the forest.


    They will be born and die again and be born again.

    Two parrots appeared out of the sky.
    No sooner had they alit on the ground than they turned into women.

Between the silences, we played together.

When she saw the fleshy fruit at her feet, she picked it up and bit into it.

Water is essential.   She felt a strange pleasure and became pregnant.

A mother is essential.   And God thought, “The rabbit is so small.   Yet he did all this.   If the rabbit were big, maybe I wouldn’t be God.”

My mother’s transgression was hunger.

Before the sun arrived, the woodpecker pecked at the wooden girl below the belly.

Thus she, who was incomplete, was open for the sun to enter.


    I like the idea of erasure.

    synonyms: abolish blot cross out cut dispatch efface eliminate excise expurge gut kill launder negate nullify obliterate scratch out stamp out strike take out trim wipe out withdraw

When a Guarani child dies, he rescues its soul, which lies in the calyx of a flower, and takes it in his long needle beak to the Land Without Evil.

The jaguar gave him a bow and arrows and taught him to defend himself.

Turn the pencil upside down, erase.   He learned that fire illuminates and warms.   Pencil upright.   Begin again.

In a family that hunted, I learned the names of the ducks my father would shoot.

God came up softly, stroked his back, and suddenly caught him by the ears, whirled him about, and threw him to the ground.

Solitude is a memory of water.

And every day I am thirsty.


    They will never stop being born, because death is a lie.

stringing pearls.  a more graceful way to say the more mundane – take two different “cento” (prose) source materials, from two different writers, and interweave them in a “conversation” of sorts.  that was the challenge taken on.

define conversation then.  not so easy now!  not with two tangential voices laid together, side by side (willing or not).  think this way – two actors standing on a stage saying their respective lines.  each done by content, by physical proximity, by intent – then each inform the other by what they say.  add a chorus for tide to speak, and then, oh yea, there is a “third”.  that being you.  meaning specifically, you, reading this.  so that’s where the conversation exists, and “is” in a very real and present sense.

two very powerful writers providing the passioned vocabulary, both masters of imagery.   me, I listen.   I follow.

(voice one) Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds.
(voice two) Eduardo Galeano, Genesis, Memory of Fire.

originally written and posted to my bearly audible blog.