I walk with the desert;
he is the red land of my sorrow and regret,
clinging to my feet as the sand of ages past;
he stretches out not as a lover,
but as a debtor demanding recompense.
My sky takes me by the hand in the face of those sands,
and on the distant horizon I behold the mirror of water;
she is the mother of my new life, waiting;
so I have come back to the place where my feet began.
I walk with the trees,
remembering the yew of my boyhood,
whose words of the future heralded my past;
to be reborn through memory would be my mountain to climb.
He has boughs of yesterday and leaves of tomorrow,
my yew who keeps our past and remembers our future;
older than the vault of the sky, his prophecies hold our beginning.
Through him I recall the breath of myrrh, the Sacred Ones who travel;
they are the Gods who offered me my lungs, who gave me the Ancestral breath.
He is the father of my new memory, enduring;
so I have come back to the place where my history began.
I walk with the river;
she rushes over my feet to find me my spirit,
who travels along the watery road where life and death mingle.
Has she swallowed the crocodiles that wait in the darkness,
my pains of sharp teeth who surface to remind me;
or has she drowned them, those sorrows of impenetrable scales,
my boyhood and wayward youth who hunger to surface.
But I will not find them, not in the shallows where the lotus rises;
he pushes up his face from the mud to drink the golden light.
This is what spirits do when they find darkness,
and this is what my spirit becomes when first light catches his eyes.
He is the lotus that came from my beginning, opening;
so I have come back to where my spirit began.
I walk with my body,
who carries the scars of my mother and father upon him;
for we all wear our history like clothes,
putting some on with relish and discarding others;
how my wardrobe has ransomed my heart for their promises.
I had the scarf of youth and the boots of pleasure,
now worn out like my hands, who carry my heart in thin fingers.
I will not now count the brilliant fabrics I possessed,
now that my body moves sky-clad beneath a mantle of stars;
for this is where I came from, and where you who read me were born.
My stars take me by the fingers and lead me to sky’s shelter;
she is the lapis womb whose waters receive me, swimming;
so I have come back to where my flesh began.
I walk with my lovers;
they give me their manhood and mine, their skin and consolation.
I have had them by moonlight, where my lips taste ivory beams;
I have had them by daybreak, where the sun strikes naked thighs with gold.
I have heard the promises of sages warning of the flesh;
where are their bones now?
I have listened to the sacral threats of ages;
have their fears ever shown us how?
Now I take you with me, all you lovers from my bed;
in memory you live again, on lips and breath and kisses.
You have taught me how precious a gift life is;
shorter than twilight, and sweeter than vain promises or threats.
You are the thighs my spirit enters, renewing;
so I have come back to where my heart began.
I walk with my heart,
gleaming even after nightfall as a stone of sanguine carnelian;
he holds the sun between his lips even after sundown.
He has been lost in a bramble where my hopes found him,
as all hearts are found even when shade takes them.
Shade, you are a gale in the hands of time,
but you make the heart endure with its fragile light;
it is light that bends like a sapling, yet withstands the gale of experience.
Now I imbibe the wind at my back, tasting what life has given me;
and it is still life as it pours from one vessel to another.
He is the container of the sun in which I set, rising;
so I have come back to where my light began.
I walk with swallows,
those little birds of great flight who soar over seas;
their untiring wings find me wherever I wander.
Give me your cloaks of lapis lazuli, your hood of blood red;
and give me your morning call to summon the potent sun.
Yours is the language of time’s beginning where men are made;
yours is sight of sunbeams upheld by wings of shade.
I open my body to let my spirit fly with you;
and this is where we all travel once our skins are shed.
You are the voices of earth that mingle with heaven, flying;
so I have come back to where my speech began.
I walk with the dead;
they came before me with the rising sun,
and they departed when the song of eventide ended.
They are my mothers and my fathers, my conscience and memory;
I remember we came from many, no matter how the one howls.
It is the Ancestors who keep me in the language of their names;
their names are the warp and weft from which our future weaves.
I make my heart a libation from which my past drinks,
while my future is a stream of memories pouring from history’s bones.
I open my memory to let my body become you;
and this is where we multiply once we set our memory free.
You are the ages past from where I hail, living;
so I have come back to where my future began.
I walk with spirits,
who pass through the doors of flesh and bone,
who know where the earth meets the sky;
they know the caverns in the ever-standing mountains,
the portals of imperishable stars flashing.
Their river is a road in the nether sky, where wings of sparrows tread;
they make of the earth a memory, and from sky they make a bed.
How soft their whisper in half-forgotten words, I hear with open heart;
how our past comes calling when our spirit makes a start.
My shadow takes my fingers and leads me to a door;
the earth becomes my lintel as the sky becomes my floor.
You are the memory of me time keeps, returning;
so I have come back to where my travels began.
I walk with the Gods;
they came before us with the rising waters,
and they have never departed, even as our memory faded.
They are our mothers and fathers, our beginning and our end;
and I remember we came from many, no matter how the one howls.
You found me when I was naked on the other shore;
your doors in the sky you opened, where my feet of the earth could drink.
The desert of my memory becomes a field of turquoise,
where the sycamore and tamarisk hold the florid sky.
I am the memory of leaves and branches glistening in the green;
now the sparrows find me as a home for the weary vault.
Come Gods, you stellar wings of earth and sky;
lift up my bones of memory where stars make bright their doors.
I open up my body to let my memory become you;
and this is where immortality finds us once we set our memory free.
You are creation’s waters where spirits hail, ascending;
so I have come back to where my soul began.
All text copyright © 2016 Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa