An excerpt from We Fold Open the House, an ongoing project.

A Promise

The pages left ring out a song of emptiness -

space that wants not to be held,

but led

along the maze that is my mental cityscape

- no, forest, no, concrete. 

Whichever terrain, we know nothing about where the light comes from,

only that it does

and reliably so it ushers in the way out and through

so we are always falling, folding, returning -

in pleasure and pain -

to ourselves -

flesh, fingertips, the ache of wanting -

I rise from the ash.

You cannot hold me.

This cityscape, a jungle inferno.

My lungs, dipping down into the relief of water.

Climate, light and moisture.

I’ve been told what it is not

the mark I must make under the spell of surrender

comes easy now

for I do not own nor push

I purge

burrs along the saltwater's edge

I stick and seed through hell on earth

until birth renders me a mother

father of my mistaken love

like lilies.

A tiny ecosystem emerges

collapses into space between my toes

rests on my shoulder

a promise -

a bloom in turquoise the size of my pinkie nail

touches down like a butterfly in the shadow of my belly button

whispers “you are not done”

not even close

I know

The sky told me so.

Told me to come down and lay my body prostrate on bramble

in an act of curiosity,

a sign of what I am not -

so I might give -

all I am.

AHNIKA WOOD,   Photography Credit: Karina Rovira, Shaye Garrigan