Ekiwah Adler Belendez

HARD NEW ENGLAND WINTER

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1

First day of spring — the pond a plate
of cracked ice. Catharine half reclined
on the stone steps outside our college dorm

while the sun beat down
on the pavement in front of her
where discarded cigarette butts
formed a dark cluster.

2

I watched her from above
like an odd bundled up bird
perched on the edge of the steps
in my black motorized wheelchair
ready for take off.

3

I'm ashamed to admit
I never knew her well enough
to describe her in detail.

All I really remember is
that I wanted her naked
that she was wearing
cut off jeans and a white jersey

while the cherry trees burst
with white blossoms
in the distance behind her.

4

Can I sit on you? she asked Willie.
William flicked his lighter on and off.
I've got homework to do.

Can I sit on you she asked again
this time to someone else (or to nobody)

Adam shrugged and said softly
"Catherine,
you like to sit on anything
with a penis.

5

I didn't care who Cathrine was
or even if she was Cathrine at all.

I could imagine it coming:
Her breasts glinting
like mounds of white gold
in my hands. Her small hips
rocking back and forth like Spring itself
on my lap— wet sunlight. The roundness of her ass
the perfect symbol for the utter completion
of every fact!

The heat of our bodies hot enough
to make the entire pond race like the holy flood itself
animals of every kind from muskrats to bumble bees
lining up in two's. The whole college campus watching
our unabashed and glorious bodies.

6

As I kept staring her short spiky
hair glistened like small blonde thorns.

She shouted that morning
to the clear sky " fuck spring"

while her fingers drew 2s
in a trail of cigarette ash—

7

I leaned forward
in my motorized wheelchair
turned on the switch and rolled
close enough to the edge
to plummet on the pavement.

"You can sit on me," I said.
"Honey, Iím sorry" she said
"you're in a wheelchair
you can't get it up."

I wanted to answer
"I can. Give me a little air time
and I'll show you One Big— "

but I burned like all the ice
that was still half frozen in the heat
and remained silent.

8

I could have said to Catherine
"I know what its like to feel so hungry for sex
you could kill for it— and because of that
you are my sister."

But those words of kindness
come to mind— only in revision
six years later.

At the time
my nights felt so dark— no headlights
would ever reveal anything.

But the truth is I was mostly
just one more horny college dude
doing anything for the fleeting chance
of a one night stand.

* * *

THE WOODS

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I tried to distract her
with metaphysics. But she
pushed my wheelchair
into the woods. And

a midsummer night descended
suddenly upon us.
We slipped
into bodies of moss and leaf,
braided by the thin strands of the rain.

Her hairóa labyrinth of orange light,
her eyes alert like a skittish mare
the turn of her voice
bright autumn.

I, with her in my arms
became at once a line of smoke
over the worlds blue lip
and one coherent piece
of cosmic clay.

Feeling wanted for the first time
not in spite of my body
but because of it
every one of my cells opened
into gardens
of motion and silence.

Then like a smiling skull
cut out of tissue paper
and strung in a row of prayer flags
for the time when the dead laugh with the living
our day floated through the night.

 

Ekiwah Adler Belendez is from Amatlan, Mexico, a small village an hour from Mexico City. The son of a North American father and a Mexican mother, Belendez is the author of five collections of poetry, Soy (I Am); Palabras Inagotables, (Never-ending Words); Weaver (2003), his first book in English; The Coyotes Trace, which features an introduction by Mary Oliver. His latest work, Love on Wheels , deals with coming to grips with the richness and complexities of life in a wheelchair, and explores the relationship between poetry disability and sexuality. Belendez has given numerous talks, readings and workshops at colleges, high schools and festivals both in Mexico and the United States. Including The Dodge Poetry Festival, The Poetry Therapy Conference, Mythic Journeys and Writing the Medical Experience, and has read with Li-young Lee, Coleman Barks, Franz Wright, and Mary Oliver. Some of his work is featured on blueflowerarts.com and on his website www.ekiwahadler-belendez.net