Areito

By Jay Wright b. 1935 Jay Wright
This is my mitote,
batoco,
areito,
my bareitote.
This is my bareitote,
areito, batoco,
my a-ba-mitote.

Corre, corrido, navideño.

Friday the thirteenth
and snow in the birch.
Love’s days all begin
with that kind of coldness.
We had come down
to the fog and the bite of the sea,
another of love’s soft nibbles
                                  on the skin.
The axe had chipped in the trees.
High up, the squabble of birds
through the evergreens
became the painful sound of palms.

And the woman sang:
I’ve got love all around me
My own treasure’s found me
My savior
is a boy in bloom.

So you guess that I wrestled
the shadows of my cabin at night.
My wife, in her corner,
tumbled over the milk in her sleep.
We had arrived
with more than a small purchase,
a small reparation,
                                to make.
Was it only the axe wronged in the trees?
My skin is the repository
of the sun’s needles.
Why had I chosen the cold?

And the woman sang:
Flesh of my flesh, I nurse your dreams
I nurse your screams
I am
your mother.

Mystic rose of the heart,
how could three of us
be imprisoned there?
And how could we come
from the dark wood into the light
yet still hear the moonlit canticles
prey in the water
still pray in another tongue
for sunlight on our nets?
Three of us to nurse the night,
and three of us for saving.
Santos and serpents,
tangled in the streams of our bodies,
dance in the blue of our altar lights.

Dolor, dolori, passa
A strength in a weary land
A shelter in the time of a storm.

I had lived alone with the woman,
sunlight, a son, fish, the fallen apples,
the holy deer that would kneel to our knife,
all the provisions or prayer,
to find myself unmarried,
my woman drunk with God,
nurse of a savior’s screams.
Then out of the woods,
I turned to the woods,
to the toothless nurse of my own dreams.
by the light of the thirteenth moon,
I began to search for my own light.

Wood of the woods
Bird of the woods
Woman you were created by God.

Necromancer of the hummingbird,
I bring you this bird’s body
and the thirteen rings of my love’s chains.
I bring you the secret whispers of my wife’s sleep,
the tangled passions of the forest,
the thorn I would return
                                  to another heart.

Bird of the woods, fly into her heart.

Teach me how to stalk her sleep
and the bible of her loves.
Teach me the darkness of thirteen moons,
how to contend with a God.
Bathe me in love’s coldness.
Woman of the woods.

Dolor, dolori, passa.

I lie down in the sand
to hear my batoco,
my mitote,
my areito,
end.

Jay Wright, “Areito” from Transfigurations: Collected Poems. Copyright © 2000 by Jay Wright. Reprinted by permission of Jay Wright.

Source: Transfigurations: Collected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2000)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Jay Wright b. 1935

Subjects Relationships, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Love

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Jay  Wright

Biography

Frequently described as a “poet’s poet,” Jay Wright has quietly built an impressive career as one of America’s leading African-American voices. His work, praised for its evocative language, introspective tone, and mythological imagery, has won many honors, including the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, and Yale’s prestigious Bollingen Prize. Wright’s plays, essays, and poetry generally . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Trees & Flowers, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics, Love

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.