Devil’s Lake

Fall 2013 Issue

Gabriella R. Tallmadge: The Body’s Law Transcribed from Darkness

Form we penetrate, endless becoming
      finite, even intimate. Ours, even.
Each body doled out whole, even if

      missing a swatch of flesh in the mouth,
or bone found mid-made at birth.
      Darkness poured over each cluster of us,

culture of what will become a nose, bouquet of hair—
      diligent in where to keep adding flesh.
Sometimes holding back, sometimes

      subtracting. Bless the darkness
inside each woman. The womb—deep doll box—
      and uterus work in darkness on us,

only to be given over to the bright
      tang of light. Each body expected to adjust,
even accept light as what is at our source.

      Darkness caught trundled in with fear and fable:
Claw-of-rat, out of time, locked. Each body
      taught to listen for a whistle in the dark,

to find dawn. But we are muck, in us is fecund.
      The body came from the return of blue, of black,
the body’s blood route. Nothing looks red

      on the inside, no color but black, no eyes,
no light, no absence. Each cell many minded
      in composition with the others also in darkness.

Each bud’s willingness a law at our birth.
      Formless, at first. As one fish is a beacon,
sending a low pulse to her others, they become.

      And like the fish in the fog of thousands, the body
becomes. Out and emerged, the body,
      light from dark, is glow. We give each nameless

ache our own. We ask ourselves to not
      be afraid of what can’t be seen. The future
of our bodies has already been written:

      Wreck, bullet, sleep. Tattoos predating skin.
To each body, darkness gifts this.
      We must tessellate the dark inside

and translate it. The blind corners become
      less sharp when we close our eyes—
call the edges of the deep before us home.

a photo of the author, Gabriella R. Tallmadge GABRIELLA R. TALLMADGE serves as social media and web content manager for, a nonprofit arts organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems are published in the most recent issues of Crazyhorse and The Collagist, with more forthcoming in Passages North, The Journal, Sou’wester, and Salamander. She can be found in North Carolina and on Twitter (@GRTallmadge). More from this issue >