Tuesday, December 05, 2023

India Lena González, Fox Woman Get Out!


            fox woman saunters back

   i am loose-limbed    woman
sudden on my black-tipped toes    fine ears and underfur
wind between trees

i’ve been stuck in this viridescent landscape
a hazy film where i strike along the base of forest
where my cunning becomes feminine

i am praying for all the bodies
i am asking for light
i am asking to get out of this verdant dreamscape

i did not mean to outrun your gun
with your eyes fixed on my snout
you wanted flattened skull and underfur

i did not mean to scream
the way a woman does in distress
i did not mean to ravage your inner flesh

i am praying for all the bodies
i am asking for light
i will not wound you again

i am too many
         trees between wind
   long jagged teeth
      someone’s reddish brown love

I’m intrigued by this full-length debut by Harlem, New York-based poet India Lena González, the expansive Fox Woman Get Out! (Rochester NY: BOA Editions, 2023), a collection held together through a blend of simultaneously wild and precise energies. “i do not feel big mother sitting at the foot of my bed with all our other ancestors,” she writes, towards the end of the poem “MAMI :   a chest for healing,” “so forgive me as i go looking in all the earthly places / you’ve got that divine prerogative / i’m stuck at planet level [.]” González explores and articulates growing up and body comfort, ancestors both distant and immediate, and a self of blended histories and threads, enough that one can’t easily keep track of much beyond the speculative, and what can be immediately seen. “nobody is a purebred anymore,” she writes, to close the poem “una parda, which is me,” “i’m precocious mutt / i know all about the small living quarters for / tender-tribed-people like me / the people-with-too-many-ancestors-inside-of-us / we have now painted our living room / we chose the color of bloodied-up hide / we chose us [.]” She speaks to both the living and the dead, composing lyrics that are deeply physical, offering a propulsive energy and veritable heft, occasionally utilizing ALL CAPS across line breaks and prose poems. She both asks and answers the question of who she is and where she is from, a stylized and expansive lyric across generations and the length and breath of the page with a stylish, energized and deeply thoughtful expansiveness. Is she woman or wild beast? Perhaps, in her own way, she is both?


              i    remember   when   your   bones   outgrew   your      skin
        mama    rubbing   fermented    banana   leaf
                like    a   prayer   all   over   you


                                                            who goes first this time?


           siempre   hemos   sido   ballenas     beluga

                                                                   pero               qué más sucede después?


                very       blue       water
          &      the       echo       of      our      great twin      mouths


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