Fragments on Hips in _Postcolonial Love Poem_

I’m in the process of reading Natalie Diaz’s Postcolonial Love Poem and she frequently returns to hips. I used to feel a little bashful about returning to the same image throughout my own writing, but Diaz’s poems here are a reminder of how multivalent a “single” image or word is–how variform its expression.

In the titular opening poem, the hands of the speaker’s lover sweep their body: “Where your hands have been are diamonds / on my shoulders, down my back, thighs–.” This sensuous sliding down turns the speaker into a snake (“I am your culebra. / I am in the dirt for you.”) and we slither to the lover’s hips, a scene of gushing plenitude: “Your hips are quartz-light and dangerous / two rose-horned rams ascending a soft desert wash / before the November sky untethers a hundred-year flood– / the desert returned suddenly to its ancient sea.”

Coursing movements across desiring bodies echo throughout. In “These Hands, If Not Gods” the poem opens with: “Haven’t they moved like rivers– / like glory, like light– / over the seven days of your body? / And wasn’t that good? / Them at your hips–“. These lines take the distant glories of God–the accomplishments of a higher realm–and bring them into the immediate register of the sensing body.

In “Like Church,” hips are not only a zone of feeling or a scene that opens up into desire, they actively seek out the speaker: “Her right hip / bone is a searchlight, sweeping me, finds me.” In these lines, the speaker is swept (up) and recognized, in and by desire. I love the intimacy of finding oneself recognized by the body of another.

The last instance I’m thinking about is in the poem “Ode to the Beloved’s Hips”: “What do I see? Hips: / Innominate bone. Wish bone. Orpheus bone. / Transubstantiation bone–hips of bread, / wine-whet thighs. I love these lines–moving from an x-ray view of the hips, what is ostensibly below the surface, into metaphor, into wish bone, myth bone, into the hips as a sacrament, the intercourse of communion.

I am only about halfway through, but already these poems are so rich that I needed to write something about them, just as a kind of reflexive processing. I’ve barely accorded a sentence of reflection on the different lines I have highlighted here, but that just means there’s more for me to return to when I finish the book.

Future Writings, Writings for the Future

I think four years is a good enough break for this little blog.

I first started this site as a tiny space for barely developed thoughts. It has always been important for my own human functioning to find little nooks and slippages to sit and think and imagine and feel in difference, to find myself in relation with things otherwise too slow or irrational or obtuse. I like crumbling thoughts, useless things, messy feelings–for a while now, I have thought of failure as a heuristic for encountering worlds of effaced others and subterranean relations that are otherwise unattended to.

There are so many things wrong–an important support network of mine has disintegrated, at least a million people in the U.S. alone are dead and forgotten as we write “post-pandemic” over and over, and as usual, intersecting oppressions churn beneath and constitute the placid surface of the everyday. As my comforts and assumptions and safety have whittled down, I find myself returning to a place of aspirational inquiry, sensing, and speculation: when we are reduced to nothing, what persists? As I thought and read more around this question, it ceased to be–instead, emerging as a statement: scenes of negation are places of living encounter.

While the foundations for this project were laid in academic discourse, I have increasingly realized the necessity of creative forms as vital sites of enunciation. To that end, I have re-valenced my atrophied life of creative writing as integral to this critical project, rather than continuing to relegate it as an energizing, occasional distraction from “real” thought and work.

This means two things for this space. First, this blog’s little nap is over. Second, the content posted here will diversify. My scrambled brain blog posts, where I type up thoughts largely coalescing around a central concept, will unfortunately continue. However, I’ll also be posting my experiences reading poems, short stories, and maybe (probably not) a novel or two. I am largely uninterested in the modality of the critical review–I prefer the generous and tangential. There will also be some slovenly writing akin to journal entries–it’s my space and I will do what I want.

In short, I am using this blog as a pseudo-public facing notebook. A barely curated look at the canvas of chaos and bad ideas that I must work through to burble out one coherent sentence to other humans. I think a good metric for growth is whether or not you burn with humiliation as you read old writing. I have yet to fail in that regard. Here’s hoping I keep up the streak.

P.S. Speaking of humiliation, I have privated almost all my past posts, but left a couple just for nostalgia’s sake. I think they’re a useful measure for how I was thinking through things back then, which is at once familiar and completely strange, still generative in some ways but completely occluded in others.