Marcela Sulak

The End of Venezuela

i Hosting in the South

By Roraima my fingertips and toes had already sprouted black buds—
their parentage uncertain, for my toes had entered the orifices
of the wet river bottoms we’d crossed to become who we were when we stood
in this space before the mountain face. But the sky
had slipped, too, spilled steel pins—we’d called their nubs stars.

Other women grew themselves into jaguars more readily than I.
When we came to the city of fireflies, behind the table
mountain, my fingertip blossoms began to show—this made me a hostess—
and little wings emerged from my hands and feet.
Then my fingertips blossomed again
under my knife because I wasn’t that generous.

Halfway Up Roraima,

the dart frog,
          the black one,
          stretched across the stone balled
under the waterfall, beneath
the cascade
          of green parrots.
          The water would never
stop pounding. The frog grew pockmarked
          with the spray. Each time he placed
          his foot and pushed, the earth agreed
to spin.

From the top of Roraima,

the mother of waters,
          crystal buds were croaking
          in their milk.
It would have to last us for a very long while.

Roraima, the Mother of Waters,

the baby was crying.
All night long it was crying,
and into the morning
and intermittently through the afternoon.
Everyone took turns opening
its mouth—the jaguar
the eagle and the parakeet
—so we could continue
listening. When we got
to the Orinoco’s little mouth,
opened on the table
mountain we discovered
it was teething.

 

ii Setting the table in the West

The little boat lay on its side
in the Coro sand.
Inside, orange light—
through-the- eyelid-skin orange.
Its outside was the only blue
the sea never is. The sand was white
of course. Yesterday I spread
a slippery brown
cloth over a card table:
I wanted to make more land.

 

iii Stitching in the north: Los dos Caminos, Caracas

Para Caracas screech the bus drivers,
para ti screech the parakeets, a garage
at the bottom of this mountain is why.

Once climbing the mountain with my bag
of groceries to my home halfway up
I met one who lived in the village remnant

that the mountain wore in those days
like a threadbare cap
and followed him like a thread.

I don’t remember the village now, only
the thread and the sudden surprise
of the parakeet, braking with a screech

screeching against the sky at the edge
of the mountain, at the end of Venezuela.

divider
 

Storks

on                annual migrations
          to Africa                                        crossing the proverbial
red-tiled roofs                       of Europe or
          magnificent savannahs                  on their way back
find them in
          a field of                                        sun-warmed cabbage
bulbs                       screwed into root threads
          mute mouthed earth.                              The storks themselves have
no syrinx               and are mute,
          giving                                             no call.
Bill-clattering                         is an important mode
          of communication                          at the nest.
Their nests are very often    large and may
          be used for many                            years.
Some nests have been known to grow
          to over six                                       feet in diameter
and ten feet deep. In south Bohemia there
          is a stork                                         -nest removal service.
Although the nests bring luck, they might sometimes bring your roof down.
          It’s okay,                           Pan Dvorak re
as      sured, as                           we gazed           at his roof soon
          after his marriage                            to a house
owner, the storks come         back
          even
          when you clear                                         the nest. Storks
may change                              mates
          after migration;                               sometimes
they may even migrate                                      without a mate. And
          sometimes, when two                     people love each other very much,
having exhausted     their catalog of anatomically possible
          gestures,                                          and are at an impasse, they open
their mouths and out                                                       comes a word, perhaps
a little wobbly                            at first, somewhat
          unsure, on its first flight between bodies,
unsure of what it will find there,
                    through the warm                             and waiting
air.

 


Marcela Sulak’s most recent collection of poetry is Decency (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), and her most recent book-length poetry translation is Twenty Girls to Envy Me: The Selected Work of Orit Gidali (University of Texas Press, June 2016). She co-edited the 2015 Rose Metal Press title Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Sulak directs the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University, hosts the TLV.1 Radio podcast “Israel in Translation,” and is an editor at Tupelo Quarterly and The Ilanot Review.