poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, June 5, 2017.
About this Poem 

“The desire field is a space bloomed of tension—the body’s fire, and its smoke when those fires quiet. (I am told they will quiet.) In these ever-green wind-bent star-strewn blades of worry and field, spinning until lost, I can rename the burdens of my heart—and offer the body back to language, to be carried, to be grinded into love and what is good. What if I call my anxiety desire? What if I rename this terrible thing as wanting and blossoming with touch? Why not let all bodies—my own body included—be the beloved and possible of offering me a smooth place to rest?

(“From the Desire Field” is a poem-letter to my friend Ada Limón. We have written into each other over the past few months. The space between our poems has become a kingdom I wander, along whose streets my griefs and anxieties move in new ways—they are unashamed and unafraid to be seen into. The gift of shamelessness: because I am writing only across our small kingdom, to an amiga/amor/hermana.)”
—Natalie Diaz
 

From the Desire Field

I don’t call it sleep anymore.
             I’ll risk losing something new instead—

like you lost your rosen moon, shook it loose.

But sometimes when I get my horns in a thing—
a wonder, a grief or a line of her—it is a sticky and ruined
             fruit to unfasten from,

despite my trembling.

Let me call my anxiety, desire, then.
Let me call it, a garden.

Maybe this is what Lorca meant
             when he said, verde que te quiero verde—

because when the shade of night comes,
I am a field of it, of any worry ready to flower in my chest.

My mind in the dark is una bestia, unfocused,
             hot. And if not yoked to exhaustion

beneath the hip and plow of my lover,
then I am another night wandering the desire field—

bewildered in its low green glow,

belling the meadow between midnight and morning.
Insomnia is like Spring that way—surprising
             and many petaled,

the kick and leap of gold grasshoppers at my brow.

I am struck in the witched hours of want—

I want her green life. Her inside me
in a green hour I can’t stop.
             Green vein in her throat green wing in my mouth

green thorn in my eye. I want her like a river goes, bending.
Green moving green, moving.

Fast as that, this is how it happens—
             soy una sonámbula.

And even though you said today you felt better,
and it is so late in this poem, is it okay to be clear,
             to say, I don’t feel good,

to ask you to tell me a story
about the sweet grass you planted—and tell it again
             or again—

until I can smell its sweet smoke,
             leave this thrashed field, and be smooth.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Natalie Diaz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Natalie Diaz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 5, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz

Natalie Diaz is the author of When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). She teaches at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. 

by this poet

poem

Forgive me, distant wars, for bringing
flowers home.
         —
Wisława Szymborska

In the Kashmir mountains,
my brother shot many men,
blew skulls from brown skins,
dyed white desert sand crimson.

What is there to say to a man
who has

poem

I have gazed the black flower blooming
her animal eye. Gacela oscura. Negra llorona.

Along the clayen banks I follow her-astonished,
gathering grief’s petals she lets fall like horns.

Why not now go toward the things I love?

Like Jacob’s angel, I touched the garnet of her wrist,
and

poem

My river was once unseparated. Was Colorado. Red-
fast flood. Able to take

       anything it could wet—in a wild rush—

                                 all the way to Mexico.

Now it is shattered by fifteen dams
over one-thousand four-hundred and fifty miles,

pipes and pumps