Postcolonial Love Poem – Natalie Diaz #DiverseDecember #13

If you are where you are, then where
are those who are not here? Not here.

from ‘Manhattan is a Lenape Word’

In Postcolonial Love Poem Natalie Diaz investigates the body as a site of trauma and of desire. She connects it to the land, the water (particularly rivers) and the air, showing how violation of the elements by white Americans has led to irreparable damage. That damage manifests as pollution of and violence towards the body and the mind. 

How can I translate – not in words but in belief – that a river is a 
body, as alive as you or I, that there can be no life without it?

from ‘The First Water Is the Body’

The poems about her brothers are heart-breaking; their power coming from the way in which Diaz uses magical imagery of animals and wounds to describe the pain of mental illness. 

Woven between these darker poems are threads of female desire and longing:

How can I tell you – the amber of her.
The body of honey – I took it in my hands.

from ‘Waist and Sway’

I could write something clever here about the way Diaz uses language, but the poems in this collection transcend the words and the techniques Diaz uses. I didn’t just read them, I felt their effect on my body. And that, surely, is the sign of incredible poetry. 

Postcolonial Love Poem is published by Faber. The copy I read is my own.