Photo credit: Joan Stickles
Photo credit: firsttimeuser.tumblr.com
Photo credit: dreaminginthedeepsouth
Photo credit: Reflections
Watch her drift beyond shore’s edge
Body half risen, half submerged
Observed by faithfuls on the bank
Robed white as if for rapture.
Watch preacher dunk her under
The cool, murky shallow & up
Into searing midday sunlight.
Watch sisters receive her with
A towel & embraces
like a newborn damp & alive.
Watch her take to the road alone
At service end, returning
To her own sacred ground that
Heals scars water alone cannot
Cleanse, that full immersion cannnot
Don’t assume responsibility for making
the essentials like mac & cheese,
stewed chiecken or collard greens,
the old hands got them covered.
Expect the whole fam there, or,
at least, the oneswho return emails,
phone calls & don’t have personal beefs.
Expect to find the men lounging on living
room sofas, watching Saturday night ball
on the flat screen, debating the MVP race;
the women crowded around the kitchen
table passing gossip with a bottle of wine;
kids tearing from room to room ’till some
sharp parental looks send them outdoors.
Come expecting your grandma, aunt & uncles
to give you a tight embraces that leave back &
shoulders aching; the dense scent of meals slow
cooking in the oven, on the stove or waiting pre-
made in tin plastic trays. Expect some names
to shine more brightly than others in your mind
& to discover a new life here to replace the one
seas, continents &distance of time has left behind.
Remember how your summit was preceded by a base:
low-rent high rise, heating in mood swings, lone window
lost in grey, Neighbors trading stabbing words, shadows
racing along peeling walls, mattress marked by bodies undefined,
suitcase bursting with clothes, photos of kin & a lover left behind,
two books of poems you didn’t read aloud until now, when progress
rests on concealing your mother tongue, on assuming a foreign one.
–For Jacques Derrida
Each morning we awake
to the death of our fantasies:
She with straight, silky hair
He with abs taut as
djembe drum skin
She with eyes a frosty marine,
He with upper-body
sculpted & defined
She less assertive, more docile;
He more intelligent, less obtuse
someone we can each wake up to
without loathing or regret,
without pity or guilt,
A body baring a dream,
not an authentic being.