WE ARE BODIES IN BODIES WE ARE STARS
We are shining in the streets and in our homes, our bodies on fire in grief and rage.
We are seeds bursting open in fire.
We are soaked through to the bone in grief, breathing in grief with every gulp of air.
We are soaked through to the bone in rage, breathing in rage with every gulp of air.
We move toward each other, hands out and some distance away. We search for how to
collapse the distance. We collapse the distance, some of us.
Some of us are fighting to remember the ancestral knowledge we carry in our bodies, all of us. The knowledge of how deeply we are connected to every creature, all of us.
Some of us don’t need to learn this anew, some of us learned this from our grandmothers and ancestors who held onto wisdom when white people tried to rip it out and still they kept this knowledge like breathing. Some of us breathe this connection in every breath and with every step.
We are returning to the ocean and the forests, our bodies like waves, our bodies like seedlings. We are like mushrooms connected underground, like birds murmurating, all of us.
Because we are breathing, all of us.
We are breathing and our blood is running through our bodies, all of us.
Our breath travels out of our body and what was in us reaches someone else’s body. We have little control over this. We are all breathing and sharing our breath. We have become so aware of this.
And maybe this is the beginning of something. Maybe this is the beginning of learning how to love beyond the boundaries of our selves. Maybe this is the beginning of learning how to love beyond the boundaries of our communities.
Some of us know this already and are waiting for the rest of us to catch up. Some of us are eager to learn how to love this way. Some of us are terrified to love this way, how vulnerable it is, and so are violently resisting it. Some of us feel exhausted just thinking about it. Some of us are not thinking about it at all.
We are all of us doing all of this. We are all of us breathing, shining in the streets and in our homes, breathing and shining.
I VOW TO BE THE SMALL FLAME
My people, we have found
too shallow our roots
in this land full of boulders.
But when the satellites fall
I vow to use my good
sense of direction to find you.
Songs make provisions—
all the spells to turn our capillaries
sea waving sky. I vow
a ravenous undoing.
I vow to love the fire always.
Tamiko Beyer is the author of the new poetry collection Last Days, from Alice James Books.
Her other books and chapbooks are We Come Elemental (Alice James Books), Dovetail (co-authored with Kimiko Hahn, Slapering Hol Press) and bough breaks (Meritage Press). Her poetry and articles have been published widely, including by Denver Quarterly, Idaho Review (forthcoming), Dusie, Black Warrior Review, Georgia Review, Lit Hub, and the Rumpus.
She has received awards, fellowships, and residencies from PEN America, Kundiman, Hedgebrook, VONA, and the Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund, among others.
She is a queer, mixed race (Japanese and white), cisgender woman and femme, living in on land traditionally cared for by the Massachusett people. A social justice communications writer and strategist, she spends her days writing truth to power.