Ife-Chudeni Oputa 2015 Lambda Literary Fellow

Ife-Chudeni Oputa 2015 Lambda Literary Fellow



so I'm going to be reading the three poems for you tonight and they're from a project our poems written to for about my late aunt and so what poem is going to be a letter to my late aunt and then the other two poems will be imaginating my aunt as a young woman during the time in her life that for me is shrouded by a lot of mystery imagine Mary picking lemons from a tangerine tree her brother split open on a whim wanting a wet surface to graft sour fruit three empty clotheslines drive the horizon Mary slides a lemon along the wire slicing the peel until the skin of her thumb breaks a single lemon branch and the whole tree blooms tart and yellow rejected the sweet subtlety of the tangerine you have to keep the wound alive for the graft to take she must have watched as he closed the sap dressed the cut in rags Mary thrusts her thumb into the rind wrenches the skin back and bites until she is all juice and sting from letters to the blue light yes the alley is the hallway of ghosts you architect you absent builder and the row houses catacombs the telephone wires charged with Spector sure the air is clearer and now but it reeks because all grief reeks because all grief is the best of things turned rancid and the did you know this place is an asylum I mean this place was an asylum and then you if you're dying see the murals faces are only your face recast as a world without refuge how am I to shed a river in this desert when I am only one woman without water so long imagine bury at the Santa Monica Pier waiting well past the hour he said and he'd come he said let me prove it to you said baby and saying let's stay together along with the record brand-new and spinning soft lead and another key and married in a sundress skin made for yellow elbows propped against the railing and because the light is good late into the day she can hear a film crew still bustling lead by the carousel and make out maybe Robert Redford shouting that save the pier and when the sky starts to bring out the crane and her skin Mary walks back to the street away from the noise away from the ocean's retreat advance retreat [Applause]

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