Excerpts from Mythopoeia by Shante' Sojourn Zenith
A debut prose poetry collection currently in process.
Our imagination the same substance as the inner bark of trees, the undercurrents of rivers, vast and swirling. At the corners of reality the old woods call. Something in us is not broken: for this is the story of living things and we too are alive.
The ocean lives in a box in my room. Once, they say, there was an ocean that spread across the world. But, no more. As the years went by, we built walls around the ocean, pushing it back further and further “reclaim” a place to rest our feet. Now, when I stand outside my house, all I can see is sand, disappearing all the way to the horizon. My grandmother remembers the day they set out to demolish the ocean. They stood with their hairdryers and towels ready on the shore, prepared to dry the ocean to oblivion. My grandmother couldn’t stand this. She ran down to the edge of the water and gathered the entire ocean between the palms of her cupped hands. She poured it into a box to keep it safe. Now, at home in my room, I hold the box in my hand. From within the box, as I squeeze it tight, I feel the pulsing tides. The ocean is breathing in the box in my hand.
When I look inside I see trees. The impervious rush of branches against the contours of my tensions, green leaves shot through with light. Light slatting through the planks of my ribcage, vines climbing up my neck, enfolding my vocal cords with the shimmering hum of growing. Seeping shadows… I sigh with relief as the autumn leaves leave me for the last time, as I am covered with a comforting muffling of snow. I anxiously await the first itching of buds on my shoulders, leaves popping out from my belly button, birds landing on my rib branches to sing. Forever shivering, my boughs brush against the contours of your face, tracking the wrinkles of your memory with my rough spirals of unfettered bark. My trunk finds support in the ferocity of your embrace, your head rests against my branching roots. My bark spreads over the curves of your shoulders, down your forearms, and up your calves. If only I could track the moments I don't have to make happen, the moments of connection that linger near me and then disappear into the darkening woods, the streaming voiceless murmur of longing calling to me through the trees, bark peeled back and raw, my hand meets the sensitive skin of the unprotected shelter of tree and the whole time I can hear myself singing. And the whole forest listens.