An Involuntary Recognition of Life

Some calm . . .

setting like sun done come upon me

as I find pieces of myself that were kept away for birthdays, family gatherings, and first dates.

They lie tucked under the bath house bed.

My palm, pressed to skin, feels like solace and I feel still

Laying transfixed, still. . .

My eyes find some man being fucked, violently

His head bent low.

and I saw you laying parallel.

Playing majorette with a couple of torn heart-strings.

Twirling about with some other man’s ruined symphony.

You blew smoke- thick like illusion – and sang of worlds where we weren’t prey for White men eager to waste salt on our endings.

Some part of me sat with you back when food was homemade and basons were bath tubs and we laughed at uncle Floyd’s missing teeth

and dirt roads that no one can drive on

and night’s out and even crack pipes

and we laughed.

And thought on how ghetto life seemed easy compared to this numb terror.

Still . . .

Barely understood thoughts: gold bands and dark skin

Sarah Bartman

melon patches

mule bone

Hurston and Hughes.

gin joints

spades tables

grandma’s hands

reconstruction

a month of Sundays

Loretta

pale skin and Betty Gene

South Carolina

insertion and pain

bleeding at the start

black balls

white dolls

and minstrel shows

money shots, towels and still . . .

we all lay under some White man’s gaze.