The Lesser Temple
Before the rain came, like a stampede of lakes,
I had climbed halfway down the mountain alone--
only the tremor of exhaled lullabies
could flatten the tympani of my chest.
We had interrupted nuns and monks
in the summit village midway through a meal.
My stance of guilt and his entitled stride.
Not holding hands, even when the barking dog,
charged with protecting such holiness,
kept teeth and relentless noise beside me.
I would end up crossing that same dog three more times
like an omen
as I had forgotten something precious
at the point where the green coupling gives way to the sky.
There where he had stopped to share a breathless cigarette with me.
There where I used two rusted bobby pins to become beautiful again for the photos.
I found my way to the top the second time, found the little plastic bag,
lingering where I had abandoned it to my excitement.
The foretelling. The chalking up.
The durations we entertained together and apart.
I could’ve slipped easily like a pickax finding blood through flesh,
like a scream finding absolution in the air,
sliding like broken angles off of the side of the mountain,
but still he didn’t follow me.
He was always convinced that my skin made me resilient.
I didn’t need protection.
I wasn’t graceful, I was strong.
I wasn’t fragile, couldn’t be.
But he could justify every maligning move with just a shrug.
When I made it back to the holy village, full of flowers and flat paths,
the dog was there. But I had found a large stick in the jungle.
It was black with rot, but thick in my hand.
With each step toward the one who had led me here,
I hit the ground and held my head up.
The dog noted my accoutrement—the master I carved out of air.
Allowed me to pass. As I was only a heart beating--
I passed the stone temple, roped off, but filled with colorful offerings.
I ended up at the lesser temple.
Tile floor dipped concave like a swimming pool at the center.
And I made him wait,
while I acknowledged the majesty of the space I had allowed myself into.
The space of moot summation. The space of makeshift rationale.
Let my eyes close for a moment. And took a breath.
I hadn’t yet begun to cry because I hadn’t yet begun to feel sorry for myself.
That would come later.
Natasha Marin is a conceptual artist primarily engaged in the work of digital engagement and community building. Natasha's methodology pivots around co-creation and she uses platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to find, connect, and build alliances among individuals and communities. Her work (often done in collaboration with non-artist-identified folks) supports building a creative legacy with sustainable communities through different levels of engagement, modes of connection, and methods of encounter. She is a recovering poet, author of Milk, creator of Reparations, #WomanCentered, Red Lineage, & Black Imagination.