Eileen R. Tabios

A Chapter

lavender means love
waits, thus

on the savagery of dreams imposed by a wait

A witch who inhaled everything without resentment from all her ancestors also provided etymology’s root for “Anonymous” by refusing to reveal her name. In the time before cities, she stumbled in a forest. She fell before a fallen tree trunk. She reached under cuprorivaite skirts for a knife whose blade once cut her hair so she could braid a rope. Thus, did opportunities for departures become the blessing of infinity. From what lightning felled, she carved a wooden cauldron. Within its core and as fires surrounded the forest, she alchemized peaches, plums, peonies, and violets atop an earthen base of leather, patchouli and vanilla. In a future century, they will call the scent emanating from her efforts as “Byredo Bibliotheque” parfum and price it shamelessly for Korean chaebol families. Through comparison, this perfume’s multi-layered density transformed lavender from lovely to, not even pastel but, an approximation of the most benign pastel. Approximations of the benign never change an inherited world. His shirts rejected the periwinkle flower beloved by gentility and civility—he chose to be wreathed in the philosophical scent that took its cues from old books with leather-bound pages nestled amidst cashmere combed off Changthangi goats by Buddhist monks in Ladakh. For decades before their first encounter, he walked amidst her scent brewed by a sorceress; to bear the weight of his waiting, he allowed scent to become a sunlit anaconda curled around his shoulders. Waiting inflicted an interval so excruciating that any dream with her absence savaged him. The secret to lavender’s cruel banality is its prescribed wait for the salubrious effect. Maddened, he lost patience with waiting for philosophy’s adopted scent to open her eyes. Waiting with increasing earnestness, he turned primitive. What was once watery blue in his eyes became lapis lazuli.

How Indigo Broke With Sunlight

No one is born for
Hardship. We only survive
earthquakes shredding chosen roads

strive for the violence that holds itself back from breaking glass

Scars on a chef’s hands form medals of honor. He most cherished the wound whose original cut was swiftly followed by a kiss from lips steeped in the Carolina Reaper, the lethal but ever-grieving child borne as a Habanero and Ghost Pepper hybrid. The gash came to join Paul Eluard’s measurements of “wounds that simply would not close.” Nearby scars pleaded with this tear to join them in cauterizing against more pain. But the wound’s heat surpassed any fire thrown off by medical technique. So many elements in this universe and its parallel worlds are not fated for healing. But so many matters also should require no healing as their griefs never should have begun. This is where time manipulation begins. See a pink wound from a plumeria petal still fragrant though it’s falling. See a silver wound from a cat’s claw dislodged from its owner due to age. See a yellow wound from a baby rattlesnake crushed against black asphalt. See a gold wound from a broken link on a necklace that celebrated an unknown couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. See a scarlet wound from a battered woman’s lips forming a circle in mid-scream. See an Icelandic blue wound as the metaphor for a grief that will not cease shuddering. See a green wound on an overrated brass medal. See an invisible wound for permanently evaporated honor. See a wound eradicate appetite in Sri Lanka despite Chef Lalith Kumar’s gold leaf Italian cassata flavored tenderly with fruit-infused Irish Cream and served with a mango-pomegranate compote, Dom Perignon champagne sabayon, and a chocolate carving of a stilt fisherman clinging to a stilt. The stilt is connected to an 80-karat aquamarine. That gemstone accompanies him every day, along with loose change and keys in his pants pocket. He keeps that gemstone to remind him of a transparent blue that is color to both a sunlit ocean and the long, flowing tresses of a woman whose absence is the biggest laceration among his wounds that refuse to heal. Occasionally, he reaches into his pocket for that gemstone and raises it to the nearest light. Then he lets his anger flow into the stone between his fingers. When its color darkens towards indigo, he will remember how Brazilians associate its shade with devotion and sacred mourning. He then will return the aquamarine into the depths of his pocket, which is to say, out of sight. He is mired in a tunnel but his eyes lost a fixed color a lifetime ago, enabling him now to discern light ahead despite a forward path whose length stretches as long as infinity. He has inhaled the knowledge of a thousand libraries—soon, he will straighten rainbows to bend time into a curve and recover what should never have been lost—what striated blue when the color should have remained as constant as waves returning to oceans.

Petals Longing for Delphinidin

Cherry blossoms or
magnolias—to die petal
by petal or whole

How to live with mortality’s conclusion

Begin with promise because ocean-eyed you are born. Eyes as blue as the sea of a dream. Blue as shimmering steel. Blue as eyes of fairy-flax. Blue as the lips of death. “Blue / And beautiful, like skies seen through / The sleeping wave.” Blue as plague. Blue as a vein o’er the Madonna’s breast. Blue as your nose on a cold day. Blue as the eyes of a saint. Blue like an ancient Briton. “Blue / As are the violets that hide / Our dewy earth from view.” Blue as the enamel on the statuettes of Osiris. “Blue each visage grew, / Just like a pullet’s gizzard.” Blue as lips’ prolonged immersion in salt-water. Blue as tint of maiden’s eye. Blue like a patch of fallen April sky. Blue as the overhanging heaven. Blue like a corpse. How to live when mortality’s conclusion is known?

(Note: Blue Similes compiled by Frank J. Wilstach, Bartleby.com)

Eileen R. Tabios has released over 60 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in 10 countries and cyberspace. In 2022 she released the poetry collection Because I Love You, I Become War; a book-length essay Kapwa’s Novels; and her second French book, PRISES (Double Take) (trans. Fanny Garin). Her 2021 books include her first novel DoveLion: A Fairy Tale for Our Times and first French book La Vie erotique de l’art (trans. Samuel Rochery). Her award-winning body of work includes invention of the hay(na)ku, a 21st century diasporic poetic form and the MDR Poetry Generator that can create poems totaling theoretical infinity. More information is at https://eileenrtabios.com.
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