There Is a Devil Inside Me
—After Ana Mendieta
Did you carry around the matin star? Did you hold
forest-fire in one hand? Would you wake to radiate,
shimmer, gleam lucero-light? Through the morning
would you measure the wingspan of an idea taking off—
& by night would you read by the light of your own torso?
Did you hear through the curtains a voice, through folds &
folds of fabric a lowdown voice—How are you fallen
from—How are you cut down to the ground?
Would gunpowder flash up in the other hand?
Were you the most beautiful of them—the most beauty,
full bew, teful, bu wtie, full be out, i full, btfl?
Did the sky flutter & flower like bridal
shrouds? Did a dog rise in the East in it?
Did a wolf set in the West? Were they a thirsty pair?
And was there a meadow? How many flowers to pick?
And when no flowers, were you gathering bone chips
& feathers & mud? Was music a circle that spun?
Did you spin it in reverse? Was your singing a rushlight,
pyre light, a conflagration of dragonflies rushing out
from your fire-throat? Did you lie down in the snow?
Did it soften & thaw into a pool of your shape?
Did you whisper to the graven thing, whisper a many
lowdown phrase: How are you fallen my btfl?
Would they trek closer, the animals? A grand iridium
thirst, each arriving with their soft velour
mouths to drink your silhouette?
Copyright © 2018 by Carolina Ebeid. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 12, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem:
“I am writing a series of poems centered around the video works of Ana Mendieta. In one of them, Mendieta faces a blank wall with her back to us. She bends down to dip her hands and forearms in a pan that is filled with animal blood and begins to draw on the wall a narrow arc the width of her body. With more blood, she writes at the center of this tombstone-like shape, ‘There is a Devil Inside Me.’ My poem imagines the artist as a kind of Lucifer, the messenger bearing light, before falling from grace into the underworld.”