Only a Shadow

¿Sólo una sombra?/Only a Shadow (Ester IV)?, from the series Santos y sombras/ Saints and Shadows, 1993–1994, by Muriel Hasbun

My daughter gathers the seeds she finds in our desert, calls them
spirits — the spirits are us, she says when I worry those orbs in my fingers

to conjure her birth. The wind’s first thought is to craft those seeds:
vessels when the tree worries she’s not enough of a multiplicity,

that she will burn into the cosmos. The cosmos is no thought, no worry,
more than us, but less than wind, and the wind is only the infinite,

not the body’s death, which is, after all, only a particle, but time formless
as space. This is only if the wind worries at all. The seed doesn’t think

— she is the doubling ambition of a vessel. In the wind, the idea
of the copy is translated by time. We were once that idea. My daughter

collects me in a box marked for spirits where I unsettle the other seeds
begging for wind so that my sound will echo a thousand miles away.

My daughter was the pulse I toss into the wind with the seeds. Particles
of us pass over like whispers from the cosmos, the clatter

the wind makes. I worry birds will take her into themselves,
that she’ll become a fleck of their transience, but this is how we furrow

ourselves into the cosmos, the twine of our breaths into wind, into
carbon, into the tree’s colossal fingers reaching back from under the earth.
You can read the rest of the PINTURA : PALABRA portfolio in the March 2016 issue of Poetry. All images in this portfolio are courtesy of and with permission from the Smithsonian American Art Museum. ¿Sólo una sombra?/Only a Shadow (Ester IV)?, from the series Santos y sombras/Saints and Shadows by Muriel Hasbun, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Moore © 1994, Muriel Hasbun.
Source: Poetry (March 2016)
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