Christina Stoddard

Noh Theater

I. The One Who Acts (waki)

After the violence of being born,
I was cradled by strangers.
I would not know this until later.
I flexed my hands
without knowing I had hands.
I opened my mouth to cry and to receive.

Not much has changed. Creation still requires
its measure of blood and labor.
I still sleep in the arms of strangers
and refuse to know the power
of my hands. I am still missing
parts of myself I cannot name.

II. The One Who Watches (shite)

You were never limping, nor half-alive.
You blazed into the world,
ears perked for your mother’s screaming.
Strangers draw close to you
because your heart is a moveable fire,
burning the edge off the nighttime.
I am not saying
you should be ashamed.

III. The One Who Acts (waki)

My mother’s second child, close at my heels,
would have also been a girl,
but I tore past her and snapped her neck
on the cord. While I opened my mouth

to cry and to receive,
she was removed in a ruined body.
I am a sister of loss, a killer, a god.