Generation by Rae Armantrout
A creation story from my childhood: in which a bird pecks at a bamboo so hard that it splits in half, and out comes a man called Malakas (Strong) and a woman called Maganda (Beautiful). Here is an illustration. The story varies now from island to island where I live, but the fact about the bird is constant.
Chopin at two in the morning: Prelude No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 28. It’s stopped raining. My fingers graze the yellow flowers beneath my window as I turn back to my desk and write. These past two years have been difficult. I keep thinking of the time I’ve wasted. I was the undergrowth—always underneath taller trees, always wanting.
How much do we rely on the crumbs we left behind to tell us who and where we are?
There was a child who forgot to be a child because the years have been spent plotting ways to escape the story and find an ending. Possessing neither strength nor beauty, there is only a hunger to eat away at history and what has been.
There is only a story after there is a story to tell, yes?
Do we create endings, or beginnings? The music changes to Shostakovich’s The Gadfly, Opus 97. The dog sleeps near my feet, and I could almost say that I am happy.
To find your trail devoured by birds—isn’t that freeing, too?
Of course you can’t go back.
We know the story.
back to find her trail
devoured by birds.
The years: the
This is from Veil: New and Selected Poems by Rae Armantrout, published by Wesleyan University Press, 2001.