Ari K. Castañeda

[ram recovering]

 

 

rams sits in a butterfly position on a mat on the floor     her eyes follow the beige grout between the travertine tiles      as she breaths in and out           the grout becomes a series of paths and ram tries to figure out where they are leading her, she twitches her fingers, they are tiny oars and the grout is a stream and she could be free if she just keeps                       paddling

 

 

 

*          *         *          *         *          *

 

 

 

 

THE CHORUS says              let’s continue, ram. tell us, did he bend your reflection?

 

yes, sometimes i see ram but sometimes i see what’s left of a woman when she gives too much to man, sometimes i see ramming sometimes i am rammed, sometimes i wonder about the different rams i see, i wonder if they are all actually me or if i am being pulled apart into two rams,                         can two rams be one me?

 

 

THE CHORUS calms            it is okay to be confused.

did he make you forget your own name, too?

 

my mother gave me my name         taught me my name   ram swallow the helicopter  ram sleep tight  ram don’t let the bed bugs bite  ram this world is harsh  ram everything you can                Ram Ram Ram do you understand? it’d be very hard to make one forget their own name  ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram ram             ram ram ram

 

 

 

THE CHORUS asks              but did he? did he make you forget Ram?

 

AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I RAM AM I

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHORUS says              in many cultures horses are worshipped as gods. and in many cultures, men think they are gods. did the horse man convince you he was your god, Ram?

 

when i was young i used to believe in god                        that was another thing my mother taught me      to get on my knees    and say oh lord plz forgive me, i was born a woman, forgive me, i loved a man, forgive me, i cried, forgive me, i let myself be rammed, forgive me, i became ram, forgive me and baptize           my horns for they have sinned too and all i want is for them to be shiny and gold and new.

 

 

 

 

*          *         *          *         *          *

 

 

ram pauses and continues to paddle through the groutstream. she gets caught in a rut, breaths in and out as memories eat through her tough ram bones like a blight spreading through her body        but she will not be overcome                      she will not lose her color    she refuses to be another           woman swept under the water       row row row your boat gently down the stream, merrily merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream

 

 

*          *         *          *         *          *

 

 

 

 

so did horse convince me he was a god?                yes

 

 

 

but then i learned how to ram and horse god was no more       now i only worship me and i ask me          what is life what is it for             and me replies that life is a series of locked and unlocked doors           which bloom into roses                                & when the petals fall off the sea lies still, its water bleached white by the bones of other women, women who won’t be contained anymore            bc that’s not the way out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[ram recovering ii]

 

 

 

THE CHORUS asks              why do you deny yourself heaven? do you believe in heaven, Ram?

 

if heaven exists then it is a field of orgasms                      if heaven exists then when i get there i will be a golden-scaled dragon             i will spread my wings and breath in the smoke of all the men i’ve burnt    ashes to ashes,  dust to being a woman who learnt  how to ram   how to tame horses  how to feed them apples     from the palm of my hand

 

if heaven exists then horse probably isn’t there because there are trees in the desert since he moved out, it’s like a tragedy, exactly like a greek tragedy, trees growing out of male depravity, trees growing and growing and scoffing at gravity      with their tree noses and faces and gasoline puddle eyes

 

 

 

THE CHORUS wonders      then do you consider yourself undeserving, Ram?

 

 

 

i consider myself clear                                  and bright to perfection

 

 

a ghost woman ramming through a series of structural mazes

 

 

supple-necked           w sea-dark hair                     covered in sheep’s skin

 

 

 

a torrential cloudburst         capable of taking a horse

mounting it                                        drowning it

 

 

 

 

a mouth portal to another land       home only to other rams

 

 

 

but i do not consider myself undeserving                                                                                                                                                                                                 anymore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHORUS asks              are you a solider, Ram?

 

 

i used to be a solider            but not anymore       now i am just a woman        asking herself what is life, what is it for?      i walk i talk i shop i sneeze           i fuck i eat i dream i bleat    i sleep i cry i heal i ram        i am    like a shark w feet and much less fins           trying to figure out why i’ve been living in the walls       trying to begin again, learning to crawl       to wear my skin       w grace            to erase my bones     and sand away

the names threaded into them

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHORUS asks              then are you free?

 

 

sometimes i talk to my demons, they tell me         you think you know who you are and what’s to come but you have no idea you haven’t even begun      i say i don’t want to sleep on a bed of bones                     i don’t want to be      cloud hollow              i say i want to eat

my demons,   chew them up & spit them out

 

 

 

THE CHORUS whispers      then why are you afraid of love, Ram?           

 

 

because sorrow smells like the memories you have during long winter hours of bees sucking honey from flowers          and it is natural to be afraid              of having sorrow.    my mother told me women love differently            she said women must be holy be tender                   she said women must                       surrender     to man love and blood dowries       said don’t worry you’ll never lose      your kind of soul       it wasn’t borrowed, it wasn’t used

 

 

 

 

 

[ram recovering iii]

 

 

 

THE CHORUS asks              do you feel empty, Ram?

 

 

 

the thing about feeling empty is that sometimes it makes you feel full                      i feel full of ghosts and stars and bones and blood             of horse                      meat and flower buds

 

 

i get so full i gag myself and throw up star chunks                i squeeze my ribs until they splinter    into me          i lay on my floor until i morph into it i pull my hair until my horns          are exposed               rip my skin to see if it is actually holding anything together or if it is just a bag for my woolcovered bones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

momma said only god can make your skin feel empty but i think love can barren you            too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when i feel most empty                    i straddle                   the air, pretend i am still

 

riding my horse         round and round up and down, my horse is the prettiest horse

on this merry-go-round and round we weave in and out of wind         and it feels as if horse is still the place my heart begins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

when i feel most empty                    i straddle                   the air, pretend i am still

 

riding my horse                     into a field of flowers                        wildflowers    that bloom

on my skin until the scent of horse play swallows me up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i am the woman who smells the horses     back to life

 

i am the woman who screams herself hoarse       horse hoarse horse      hoarse

 

[ram digging]

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHORUS wonders      can your body be put back together, Ram?

 

 

 

 

ram skin is a paradox

 

 

 

feels flat                    pink                honey sweet              like  the body of a girl

 

 

a body girled then ungirled                      a body that wants to swirl twirl      even if it creaks            ghost weeps                        even if it so opaque         that there is no moon           inside of it      no moon only layers of ram skin                 no moon only blackness                   no moon only  bone-shaped sadness that makes a bed in my ear, says   your ram body has nothing left to fear fill your head with jasmine if you want to disappear

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ram fills head w jasmine, says        i want to disappear   because i think i’ll die in here

 

 

 

 

because when i dream about putting ram body back together, dream body crawls on floor bites its hands and hair                 has thirsty skin, skin full of air      skin that isn’t excited anymore    skin that still remembers the smell of horse                     skin that bleeds ram            again and again         skin that doesn’t know how to begin                                  no more distortion    no more moons    no more weaving hair in looms          no more i think i can i think i can ram    because Ram can’t ram can’t Ram can’t ram anymore      ram body is lead in its core, lead rolling          out to sea       where horse body                 is decaying into sea waves

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ram stands on shoreline                sews herself into its tide

 

reaches up,    grabs the sun by its inkiness

 

 

digs white moons of her fingernails                                                                                                                                          deep into sun surface

 

 

 

takes a dagger of sunlight

to stab her rammed heart with

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

says     i am done with love and black art

 

says     will my voice sound under the waves

says     sea water, fill up my heart cave

 

says     ram body will bloat then float then sink

 

says     i am past saturation dead to myself

says     here’s to my health

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE CHORUS begs             but Ram, do not misread the stars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ram hold sun dagger in handhoof, contemplating

 


Ari K. Castañeda is a poet and MFA candidate at the University of Notre Dame, where she also teaches creative writing. Her thesis project, RAM, is a feminist yawp that experiments with erasure of Vergil’s Aeneid. In her spare time, Kelsey enjoys Buffy the Vampire Slayer and being a cat mom to Willow and Cordelia. Her work can be found in glitterMOB.


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