Gabriela Anaya Valdepeña

Photos by Gabriela Anaya Valdepeña & Douglas James Martin
Preface by Bouvard Pécuchet
Sebastopol , 2006
16 pp., Hand-sewn

Photographs and words are not alive.
They cannot dream.
They are but half-empty vessels.
They hardly justify themselves.
But we have respect.
They have potency.
They can affect.
Kill, even.
Hard to believe.
Take a look.
Good luck.
You'll feel haunted, at first.
Then, it will hit you.
You're more than just grazed.
You're a goner.
What can we really know?
The mortician
Makes faces in the mirror of a corpse.
Decadence? Narcissisms? At this point we glimpse the heroine.
She's a sibyl reclining in her launch. She's a housewife who only rings once.
She's fleshly gravitas without the gravity. In other words, she can walk on air, and without constraints, she bends the laws of love like iron.
The coroner whistles while he cuts. The mortician
Makes faces in the mirror of a corpse. The Magi
Place their bets on a festering star, and the dead
Read by flashlight in their tombs.
I am sinking deeper into this skin, deeper
Than your dreams of me, deeper than the bullet
Grazing my soul like the memory of a caress.
Isolation my therapist advised. So now
I breathe only my own words; I wiggle my toes
Against the empty earth. I am survived
By symbol. The self-portrait on my satchel winks
And the gun, like death, loving the game even more
Than desire, descends the stairs, hand in hand
With someone.
co-written with Douglas James Martin

Not gravity, nor fleshly gravitas,
Nor doubt, nor shame, nor bashfulness, nor blight
Burdens the amorous angels, while they pass
Silently limb through limb, as light through light.
Arms of cloud cannot tangle. Hearts of air
Cannot break like the mournful tide against the reef.
Cold kisses cannot bind, nor can despair
Clog super-lunar ears with songs of grief.
But here beneath the moon, my tousled hair
Scented with jasmine, drives your temples mad,
And my lips must promise all they can before
They press only the cold mortician´s slab.
Yet if blood is mortal, and mortal is your kiss,
I will not trade this death for an angel's bliss.
My constant desire, my inconstant love,
the tulle whispered your nonsense,
which echoed with every step of my winter boots.
I didn't know if I would leave you,
or if you would refuse to follow,
if I would rescue you,
or read you the last rites.
I kissed your iced-lips and froze my shadow in the snow.
The gravediggers swore, through the vodka,
the ground was deep and sorry enough
to hold even you.
Now Hell's walls boast
poems that kill, the cold, bitter
flowers I wore so well.
Hearts of tundra,
hearts of air—
we bent the laws of love like iron.