Persona October, 31st 2017 by





Everything opens

meeting your gaze,

rocks rise

like shouts

seas rush, flooding your feet

trees, leaves bloom

nod over roads

smudged with cement

Your eye sees gold

the prodigal sun has burned

in skies cold blue

and blood blue veins.

Everything opens

eyes, ears, mouth, limbs

open to the surge of rivers,

thick of deserts,

short, sleek coats of animals on farms,

on city pets,

in wilderness where furtive things caress

your back and scurry off.

You see, hear

icy flares of steel

break bone, drain blood;

hear indiscriminate howls

from mouths collapsed in hunger.

You close.

Your eyes close deep against the shapes,

the colors of your known horizon.

And now you only hear

what nerve ducts know—

that seas boil cold,

that earth spins on warped tracks;

The river rises, braids your feet,

your hands like mummies shrivel,

fierce glaciers hug your face;

All through your pile of flesh

you hear the river scream and lash

you like a refugee whose home

will never be on land

but in the waves;

like lightning

splitting flesh,

the river sifts

your quilt of cells

till they dissolve

till you are gone,

hurtled back,


to first burst of life.

Everything opens you

rising on waves

not water,

a phoenix blazing light.

Flesh done.

Light without end.

            Mara Lemanis




Biography: Mara Lemanis has been a teacher and scholar of literature and film at Stanford, Yale, and the Jagiellonian University in Kraków; her essays have been selected for 20th CENTURY LITERARY CRITICISM and are included in undergraduate student textbooks in the U.S.

During her work as an archivist for Historical Preservation she investigated and nominated multiple sites in the Dakotas to the National Register of Historic Places. Among her most interesting studies were those of the Oglala Sioux at Pine Ridge and Wounded Knee where on December 29, 1890 the U.S. cavalry massacred members of the Lakota Nation.

In the course of her work she also took part in the communal spirit of the purification ceremony at a number of Lakota Sweat Lodges.

Recently she has worked with the IRC to assist refugees in Oakland, California.

Her father, Osvalds J. Lemanis, was an internationally renowned Latvian choreographer (The Royal Order of Vasa-Gustav V).

She also writes for the Diplomat Magazine in The Hague.

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