Guest Poet Fiona James


I took birth in this World
With a longing knit
Into the fetus's
Ecstatically dividing cells

Like supercharged plutonium
This motive exploding
Lit and glowing in 
The dark blood pulse of 
My mother's spongy womb.

I would slide into this World
I rejoiced to myself
Like a slippery seal, 
A superhero
A sedulous servant
Come to soothe the suffering
Of a fast-contracting World.

But I did not hold that 
Red-pulsed longing

For as I hit this atmosphere
It disintegrated, falling, 
Fiery orange ball of meaning
Cascading slowly wordlessly 
Into ten thousand streaming embers.

It had been slipped to me offstage
(yes I'm sure it had) 
To carry into this World
(how had I lost it)
Like a blazing gem-like lodestar
(a treasure beyond reckoning)
Pressed & pulsing 
Up against my breast.

June, 1998

Fiona James' Questions:

- As a reader can you accept the assumption of this pre-birth identity, this context of a bardo-like state in this poem?

- What would be a more skillful way of conveying this intense, unlocalized "pre-identity" identity, without using "I" as the subject of the poem?

Correspond with Fiona James at
with your ideas about this poem.

The Albany Poetry Workshop