Reading Natalie Diaz's When My Brother Is An Aztec is a brutal an astonishing read. When I first asked people to suggest books for me to read, this collection was on the list. I thought I'd hear Natalie's name but hadn't encountered her poetry. Her book was one of the first few to arrive this summer and I devoured it on my way to work. It's the book that inspired me to start this project and try and love poetry as much as I loved this book.
What To Turn Into
A tongue will wrestle its mouth to death and lose--
language is a cemetery
~ Natalie Diaz, When My Brother Was An Aztec
Learning about the fate of her brother
brought me back to the weapon that plants a seed within a person.
Does the weapon declare itself a weapon or a plant?
Does the weapon weep
or does the weapon-- the white employer-- pay her to destroy the land
with golden laughter only?
I can't lay down my teeth enough for the grief in these narratives.
I am wrestling with losses I don't know how to name.
An American prayer nicknamed Payroll,
as if employment were ever liberation.
Survival of an abscess needing survival of the body,
tortured by the burnt nerves of its necrotic tissue.
An ongoing conversation between writers and the text that they're reading.