What Is Life If Not A Ceremony?

What Is Life If Not A Ceremony?


                                           “I was born into a world of language.”  Nancy Lynée Woo


I awoke in the pink light of morning,

returned to my body like a halo descending into a dark river.


I’d drifted to heaven & sat with my recently deceased friend,


admired her round, brown eyes,

                          said I’m sorry you didn’t get to stay,


words that would never capture the essence of my longing—

though our acquaintance had been brief,


I’d searched for someone,

like her, who has lived unrepentantly,

                                         & now she was gone.   




I was born into a world of vowels & consonants,

an idea turned

reality by etching my cells into existence

               each day with words  


like butter that could mean joy,

or fidelity that could mean

                 happiness when spoken with the right inflection

                 & a palm  


caressing the wing bones, each letter of each word

a triumph over everyday seditions.


But what is life if not a ceremony,


             a ritual of teeth brushing & window scrubbing,

forever making breakfast? 


Some mornings, I inhale sardines with avocado,

&, other mornings,


I savor the skin of a blueberry,

                              meaning every day is no ordinary day,


every exhalation a prayer to my ancestors who carried the breath

that I turn into letters, then into words, then into sentences


                              so I may tell you of my joys and sorrows—

                              between us, is there anything more important to share?




Did I tell you?

Did I say my body is afraid of never being happy?  


That my body is afraid of its finitude?

My skin craves the razor’s

edge, invisible scars like holy runes.


& still I remember the joys of expanded enunciations,





My dead friend appeared as light

                 through the window, a cathedral


                  of passion that I will carry with me.




                                             All of me rose from the bed to the kitchen,  

took my medicine


with a glass of water expressed with the juice of one whole …


I sang out,

                   lime, lime, sublime, shine rhymes with time, as in forever.



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