Barbara Chepaitis (Towards Visibility)

Barbara Chepaitis

When you were born beauty entered you and you see you are beautiful still.   Look.
There is your skin, a blanket to catch the light and toss it.
There are lines here that spiral into wind, from wind, and you have let the rain in
let the moon in                    let the sun in.           let in the dark.     It rests on you.

You see your beauty in eyes that tell water stories fire stories ghost stories.

There.    You are beautiful.  You are covered with soft, barely visible down
   like newborn otters, like cats.   Your hair listens, leaf, and grass
sweet strawberries and purple beans grow here where you are beautiful.

You are tall the willow, the oak, the mesa
You stand close to the ground a stone, river smooth, earth spine.
And here are your hands.    They know the language of shadow and flame. They reach for this.   Your hands, an old magic, spinning, weaving, while the Jaguar stands at your back and approves.

You see you are beautiful.   White feathers are scattered on your blanket.
The spirits of animals pace the floor around you and are your kin.
They gather dreams and place them
in your bones where the universe dances like grace
in your blood where all the planets circle
in your mouth where you sing the origin of voices

Now you see.    Now you remember.
Now you cradle your beauty like sighs in the sacred place of vision.


I had a rage once.

A great and growling beast whose cry I could almost hear.  Almost born,
it started where my underpants left off their tattered lace and moved into my bones,
into the marrow, bleeding a blood I could almost drink.

Look, Old man, grandfather, grand old father, where you spilled your seed.
Where it found purchase, slipping from your withered crotch to mine,
puckered with inexperience, the foreign child turned mute and murderous thing.

Look, I wanted to love you before you died, before the walls of your lungs, coated black with coal, collapsed.  Before the valves of your heart, stopped up by cigarettes, whiskey, and a peasant wife, closed shop. But you, old man, played house instead, going for the eternal sin.

I had a rage then, incestuous, and dear
Old, old  old           old dear.

Its life stirred slow within me - the darling fear, the nightmare child, the closing dark and

Someone had to talk
or risk deformity      or death.

Listen, I wanted your love between living and dying but all I got was your beast in my soul when the dirt hit your ghost-man head, just a carcass borne stinking with whiskey breath, cigarettes and skeleton hands pulling on young flesh gone early old, so I had a rage a little girl rage rabidly frothing with ejaculate shot into the darkness of incestuous pain and

Someone has to talk

say the ugly words the true words the first words the beast spoke before I buried it
lying in wait       for the resurrection.


   My child came with me;
a small, dark, and wondering girl dragged from her pleasure
by a mother's demanding hand, into a room filled with

Silk and steel is what she found,
rippling in the lines encompassing my eyes - her eyes - ours -
four glowing nights become four and twenty and one score and ten.

Our figures in quick dresses were knives tossed against the warp of day, 
images recanting, reshaped,        rephrased.
Painted endless past eternity,  
we leaped tall in tandem, brought to a rack whose stretch we could not feel, then,
shrinking, rounded down to the unimportant ugliness of spheres
pacing the hollow edge     -      now here     -   now there       -     now    anywhere.

I held onto her as tightly as I could, my hand grown numb with grasping,
but she ran ahead, pursued and pursuing the laughter in her wake.

My child has not learned to fear, in her candle eyes,
in her swift and small retreating frame,
what waits around the outlying curve.

She knows what she knows,
and moves on.

Barbara Chepaitis is author of 12 published novels, including the critically acclaimed Feeding Christine and These Dreams, as well as the sci-fi series featuring Jaguar Addams.  The fourth novel in that series, A Lunatic Fear was a nominee for a Romantic Times Book club award. Her first nonfiction book, Feathers of Hope: Pete Dubacher, The Berkshire Bird Paradise, and the Human Connection with Birds, led her into helping a Navy SEAL rescue a wounded eagle from Afghanistan, an event that had broad media coverage.  The story of that event is told in her nonfiction book, Saving Eagle Mitch.  

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