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03-5-2024

ire’ne lara silva

BLOOD·SUGAR·CANTO

 

this is what they will not tell you

and this is what you must know

if you hear nothing else i say

hear this

you cannot live in fear

you cannot heal in fear

fear will never make you stronger

 

fear is the language many doctors speak

they’ll say this is going to kill you

your organs are being bathed in acid

amputation dialysis coma death

 

and when the body does not obey

as the doctor demands

more pills

more insulin

more syringes

more often

 

and it will wear on you

the constant battle of

necessity versus necessity

 

a box of syringes

vs

gas money

 

the price of sufficient insulin

against

the cost of groceries

 

testing strips and lancets

vs

the light bill

 

the cost of one healthy meal

vs

the cost of three fast food meals

 

another co-pay

and another co-pay

vs

the cost of not seeing the doctor

 

they will say there are no choices

but there are always choices

though the choices

we make out of fear

are not choices

 

fear is a prison

fear is worse

than the disease

fear

takes

everything

 

some will say this is war

war raging within us

blood turned against itself

our bodies falling in battle

the enemy everywhere

within and without

 

but the word war

turns us against ourselves

and the word disease

renders us victims

and the war is unending

and a war always claims

casualties

 

in a war

there is no room

for dreaming oneself well

and the first part of the dream

is learning to listen

to your body and to your blood

 

it is not as simple

as

eat this not that eat that not this

take this not that take that not this

do this not that do that not this

 

you learn to listen

until you are the one writing the song

and the daily challenges

are the discordant notes

you must work into the score

making something more beautiful

than what there was before

not planned not wanted

but more powerful

because it is truth

 

but the music

will not come

if you are afraid

music like most things in life

enters in only one of two ways

el amor o el dolor

through love or through pain

 

i know

no one said

 we were worthy of love

 no one said

we were precious

or that our lives were gifts

no one said

let us learn to love ourselves

heal ourselves

care for ourselves

care for each other

teach each other

how to begin

with this essential task

of

loving ourselves

 

i will begin here

with these words

learning love

one utterance at a time

 

i will not

live

in fear

 

i will make song

SOLEDAD

(written with Moisés S. L. Lara)

 

whispering when he sings whispering we are the last memories before waking whispering when he sings when he sings no mourning did not come no we keep forgetting we will not remember there were ghosts here before death came there will be ghosts here after the living leave know that mourning did not come no no remembering no forgetting

 

silence came in the dark and stood in the morning light silence held the broken sounds silence shifted in its chair and silence made the beds silence ran outside embraced all the dead trees silence turned off the lights and told the walls to fall silence left and left the gate door open inviting in solitude there is no place where solitude has not entered

 

he woke so many times in the night never calling for anyone but with stories spilling out of him memories bruised from handling and memories never touched perfectly preserved and dangerous they left splinters they left glass they left spines they imploded and ate parts of his soul he woke so many times in the night and woke me so i could listen

 

there are words born of silence words born of violence others have always entrusted to me even before i knew what loss was they lived like blooms within and every new story is like rainfall fear of death fear of alone fear of being abandoned fear of pain others bring me their stories i could only bear them because i had song songs to make me strong

 

whispering when he sings whispering i always wanted to hear his voice singing he never understood what medicine it was never wondered what invites in the song what is the darkness descending inside and out how do you climb the song towards the light life sings life sings we keep forgetting we will not remember only the song remembers

 

silence came in the dark and stood in the morning light silence held the broken sounds shadows don’t sing shadows eat the silence and let it out again silence ran outside where there are no more gardens and the earth beckons with its stillness no rivers here silence left and left the gate door open there is no place where solitude has not been

 

LOVE SONG FOR MY ORGANS 

 

this is a song i didn’t know

needed singing needed singing

 

a song for each morning

a song for each night

 

offered with awareness

offered with gratitude

 

decades have passed i did not

know your colors your shapes

 

the work you do have done

or what you needed from me

 

now i know this song needs singing

i will sing it everywhere i go

 

i name you now breathe softly

upon you hold you tenderly within

 

kidneys

 

you are not forgotten never

you are cherished and i am grateful

 

i bring you rainwater and riverwater

i bring you flowers tiny blue flowers

 

i bring you these my two hands filled

with sun light with starlight

 

i sing you strong sing you whole

and thank you for filtering my blood

 

heart

 

be strong little heart as strong as you

have ever been you are my life

 

when i am still i hear your beating

feel it in my chest hold you close

 

in a dance that will not pause while

we are living i envision the flow of blood

 

flowing to you flowing from you moving easily

moving swiftly through wide open blood vessels

 

pancreas

 

you have been sleeping little warrior

it is time to wake time to speak again

 

i will bring you morning serenades

cascading flower petals and trilling birdsong

 

you fought the rising glucose hordes fought

until you were spent until you could not go on

 

years now i have lived on foreign insulin

always approximate subject to wild swings

 

of not enough too much almost in time

i long for your fine tuned calibration

 

i see you rising i hear you murmuring

words spoken at dawn i greet you

 

liver

 

lean i dream you lean see you lean and dark

brow furrowed ferociously inspired sculptor

 

ferociously creating ferociously shaping each

work of art as if it were the first time the only time

 

as if you were recreating the ocean the stars every minute

you are not a factory not an assembly line

 

i bring you milk thistle i bring you flax seed in thanks

you are re-creating my life your art is my life

 

nerves

 

you tell me stories without you there are no stories

without them i would know nothing understand nothing

 

of the world within or the world without

you are the carriers of lightning of moonlight

 

you tell me i am alive you tell me i am safe

because of you the exquisite the tender of my life

 

and also the pain and also the hurt the sharp the ache

but tell me stories i will always be listening 

 

skin

 

hot breath tender touch running bare-fleshed in the rain

the warmth of the sun the chill of winter days the wind

 

my boundaries my beginnings my endings my whole

life the whole world written on my skin my skin sings

 

i will bring you gifts in thanks jojoba aloe avocado sweet

almond oil cocoa butter calendula shea butter and lanolin

 

eyes

 

for me everything begins with you I could spend days staring

at the sky day or night or morning or fog or thunderstorm

 

so much sweetness in looking at green leaves bright colors

loved faces blossoms rivers rainfall sunshine long roads

 

in my memories everything begins with what you’ve given me

i remember my life in a million images you brought me

 

and all the words of my life all the books of my life

for all the flames and the moonlight all my gratitude

 

gratitude

 

kidneys.…heart….pancreas….nerves

liver….skin….eyes….all my body

 

please forgive any harm

i have caused you

 

thank you for this day for

every day you have given me

 

now i know this song needs singing

i will sing it everywhere i go

 

i name you now breathe softly

upon you hold you tenderly within

-from Blood Sugar Canto (Saddle Road Press), selected by Spring 2024 PoemoftheWeek.com Guest Editor, Sheila Black

ire’ne lara silva, the 2023 Texas State Poet Laureate, is the author of five poetry collections, furia, Blood Sugar Canto, CUICACALLI/House of Song, FirstPoems, and the eaters of flowers, two chapbooks, Enduring Azucares and Hibiscus Tacos, and a short story collection, flesh to bone, which won the Premio Aztlán. ire’ne is the recipient of a 2021 Tasajillo Writers Grant, a 2017 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant, the final Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, and was the Fiction Finalist for AROHO’s 2013 Gift of Freedom Award. Most recently, ire’ne was awarded the 2021 Texas Institute of Letters Shrake Award for Best Short Nonfiction. ire’ne is currently a Writer at Large for Texas Highways Magazine and is working on a second collection of short stories titled, the light of your body. Her first comic book, VENDAVAL, will be released by the Chispa Imprint of Scout Comics in April 2024. Website: http://www.irenelarasilva.wordpress.com

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