NOC Poetry: “For Octavia”

I wrote this poem as a kind of eulogy for Miss Butler. I took her death hard, especially as we were beginning to correspond right before she passed.

Octavia Estelle Butler
June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006

For Octavia

She told us that god was change
we didn’t listen
She told us to change god
we clung to the tethers of stagnancy
Hoping against the evidence that we had a plan
Or that someone had a plan for us

Bodies ripped and rending Colors
skin and gender become Cartography
Divine Locus Maps and territories braided

Doro and Anyanwu
A greater happening masked
Families built with will and manipulation
Power and minute control encircled

It is about shapes
The shapes of things to come
The shape of the present moment
Shaping one’s self
The Genesis point for Shaping God

Prayer is in the blood
The blood is the connector
Triads of histories meet
Leaving only the beginning of a new line

The sky has no secrets
Away from those we embed in it
The unspoken shadow
Stifles the screams of the air

Words have always been enough
Inadequate symbols of the neverwas
Meaning extracted from the loss of speech
Literacy becomes a soothing currency

Hosting and pregnancy are the same
As they both bond and nurture
Man’s stomach holds the future
The egg keeps the present at bay

Time is a whip
Splaying backs open
To ensure her existence she had to save hatred
History becomes myth becomes pain
Pain is the clay with which to shape

Tongue flits across punctures
this is a joining
Pleasure compressed into the perceptually forbidden
Family shares blood shares life shares each other

Can the difference between power and love
Ever be differentiated within the chaos
When the object of desire and affection constantly wonders if they are loved or if they are food

Positive obsession engenders adaptability
Persistence is the ever-moment
Rigidity is the enemy of future-thought
Our destination has been plotted and composed

The shape of seeds is as important as what sprouts
both need fertile ground
This is an uncommon transaction
We are blinded by the beauty of this exchange

Vinyl-clad Devil Girls from Mars touched down
Giving a young girl a new set of eyes to see
Beyond the utilitarian nature of paper and pen
Humble world-creator finds her shaping tools

Hammering at the edge of awareness
She transitions from pen to punctuated key-bursts
Worlds and their peoples asking to be born
The possibility of tomorrow captured with just 26 letters

Time and sky are her only boundaries
Both shattered with little effort or will
She makes her sorcery look easy
Onyx adepts plant themselves at her feet

Death may very well be the All Powerful
Though it is underwhelming in its insidious banality
Stories leaking onto crusted ice
Forming constellations of ossified symbol

She rose from the end of things
Looked out and high
She stepped over the flickering non-corpse of the unprayed to god and declared
“Only the stars are holy.”