Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Voice Crying Out

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea e e cummings
 
Out of an Indian Summer
out of an everlasting spring
the giant cradle
the giant’s cradle
spills over into an endless sea
and I throw myself on the sand
like him
the barefoot boy
like him
the chanter of both bliss and suffering
like him
the translator of notes
and those who rock and sway
and greet me with vibrant double l’s
and resonant double r’s
will lead me to the shore
to confront new waves:
they the singers of the incessant carol
who have not become
and will never become
shades of themselves.

Those who move stiffly
like automatons
through the metal and asphalt wasteland
and have ferried themselves across a Styx
and have drunk of a Lethe
all to partake of formless tasteless
mass-produced daily bread
once slaves raped by the master
now masters brandishing whips
lash out at the one
who appallingly makes the sounds
they have been taught to stifle
counterfeiting that characteristic initial double l
in llenar llevar llorar
to fill to take to cry
embezzling the heritage brought by conquistadors
and merged with the indigenous Taino
and Africans who cut the cane.
To them of the straightened hair
the dark severe suits
the slow deliberate gait
even the cry of pain or surprise ¡ay!
is but a forged signature
on a stolen check.

There on the coastline of Puerto Plata
the laughter of the tall reed-like young men
keeps time with the rhythm of the tide
not because I am
the lightest-shaded one on the beach
but as they dart past
into the spilling breakers
shouting ¡me voy para lo hondo!
I’m going deeper!
then glance back, they call
¡Amiga, de donde eres
las olas son mucho más suaves!
My friend, where you come from
the waves are much more gentle!

I watch them as one by one
they challenge the breakers
while on either side
a boy of caramel or cinnamon skin
holds my arm
for fear that I will be swept out
past the agile swimmers and body surfers
and as a wave washes over us
the new voice crying out
to them rings true.

Those who wander
the sterile sands of a stunted existence
like withering cilantro plants
or spindly stalks of oregano
in a window garden
might have bloomed
into immense bushes growing year-round
in the tropics
so how could they possibly
hear the lone singer
of the loud disconcerting aria?

On another not-so-wild beach
warned of the stinging man o’war
rip tides and the calm surface
that fools the eye
but emboldened and heedless
enchanted by his song
ven conmigo en el agua
come with me into the water
I follow the one
with skin of chocolate sin azúcar
and hair like black seaweed
while the witnesses who stayed behind
shout for him to return.
Swimming beside him
I lose sight of the waterfront
then the tallest of the watchers
merman-like
appears beside us
ordering me to climb on his back
and with powerful strokes
heads toward the beach.

When the deepest-toned one of all
the merman’s son
insists that he would have
brought me back to shore
my bearded savior
healer spellbinder lifter of curses
scolds him
until he hangs his head.

But the sound of the sun drowns out all reproaches
across the stretch of sand
out of the force of the cradle
into the sweeping current
beyond the notes of the carol
Oh! To dare and defy the waves!
I throw myself beneath the surface
as if to piece together the broken universe
while the nervous boys the bodysurfing young men
the old merman and his son
scan the sea for this other solitary guest
to emerge to draw that first sharp breath
and the new voice crying out ah! ¡ay!
to them rings true.


 - Lori D. Nolasco

(An educator, poet and vocalist, Lori D. Nolasco was inspired by Walt Whitman's Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking in writing New Voice Crying Out. Lori is also the author of Demetrio's Scythe: A Suite of Elegies that will be available in April, 2012. A review of Demetrio's Scythe: A Suite of Elegies will appear shortly within these pages.)