Photo credit: Joan Stickles

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Photo credit: dreaminginthedeepsouth

Photo credit: Reflections

Photo credit: @CutterStreeby

Photo credit: @CutterStreeby

Going under

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

                                                                  Undo.

First Reunion

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 ones who 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.

Making it

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.

The Who and the What

 

–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.