Danusha Lameris
O Darkness

“My arm is so brown and so beautiful,” is a thought I have

as I’m about to turn off the lamp and go to sleep.

I look at it a moment in the soft glow, and see it, briefly,

as though it belonged to someone else. A reddish

kind of brown, like a toasted almond, only flecked

with the fine, gold hairs of summer. And it occurs to me,

that I have always loved the brownness of my skin,

The way, just now, I stopped to admire my own thigh,

its deeper tone  against the crisp white of my cotton robe.

As a girl, I wanted to be dark as my mother, whose skin

shone against crimson, malachite, plum. I loved the way

that gold gleamed against her neck, the way dark skin

forgives the accumulation of our years and griefs—and still

goes on, pliant and smooth and new. It made sense to me

that others slathered their limbs with oil, with unguent,

laid themselves out on roofs, on decks, on banks of sand,

gave themselves to the mercy of the sun. Though when

I seek a synonym for dark, I find dim, nefarious, gloomy,

threatening, impure. Is the world still so afraid of shadows?

Of the dark face of the earth, falling across the moon?

The dark earth, from which we’ve sprung, to which

we shall return? What we do not know lies in darkness.

The way the unsayable rests at the back of the tongue.

So let us sing of it—for the earth is a dark loam

and the night sky an unfathomable darkness.

And it is darkness I now praise. The dark at the exact

center of the eye. Dark in the bell’s small cave.

The secret cavity of the nucleus. The quark.

How hidden is the sacred, quickening in the dark

behind the visible world. O Yaweh, O Jehovah,

henceforth I will name you: Inkwell, Ear of Jaguar,

Skin of the Fig, Black Jade, Our Lady of Onyx. That

which I cannot fathom. In whose image I am made.

 

 

 

 

 

 
Found In Volume 48, No. 03
Read Issue
  • danusha
Danusha Lameris
About the Author

Danusha Laméris is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House, 2014), which was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry prize and was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award. She has recently completed a second manuscript, Bonfire Opera, forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press in 2020, and is the current Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County, California.