In the following piece, poet, teacher and activist Iemanjá Brown feels for the life-death cycles of objects made an unmade by human animals. This is a meditation on the symbol of SEED, part of our ongoing ekphrastic writing series. A reading and performance night dedicated to SEED will be held on October 9th, marking the 7th installment of Ekphrazein.
Painted on a Mimbres bowl from circa 1050CE, this figure has been identified by archeologists as Kokopelli, the flute player whose humpback is filled with seeds. Though the Mimbres branch of the Mogollon were identified by anthropologists as disappeared entirely after 1450, it is now recognized that they dispersed into other regions. I could find no record of how this bowl was unearthed, nor evidence of who considers it their possession. After archeologists began digging for Mimbres pottery in the early twentieth century, much of it was looted; finding its way into art auctions, museums and private collections. I discovered no instance of Mimbres pottery being returned to the scattered descendants of the artists who made them for daily use and burial ceremony, among whom include members of the Acoma, Hopi and Zuni tribes. If ekphrasis can be a conversation between language and the image, I hope it can also be a doorway to the sorts of listenings that this colonized land necessitates.
By Iemanjá Brown
Drought-jawed for an
aspiration pulled out and seething.
If salt-lick pastness surges on, uneasy
does it. Not everything
assimilates into a restless body.
Worm-wending of crooks
in mouth here. And the sneaking
out of seed bank. Banks are
alluvium and swell-present toward
Look what punctures the deposit. Look what
steals to prevent rot, forgetting
decay is a burst of seed.
Yearn the shape enwombed in
big weathering and deposit while
knotted-up pale protrudes.
Infestation of sanctified
grief packets dispersed with apology. How
is the unearthing? Is it sounding
or settled up?
Mouthing off into soil gnawed
by the wrong appleseed mines. Mine
is a bad law. Mine
entrails into the crack. Not mine. Just
over, then refused. Or
formed to it.