Spared

He is real as the wind
howling over the
ocean, breaking against
the jagged edges
of that
tall, flat mountain.

He is real as my
hearty laughter under
starchy sheets,
waking together in
marriage, and the
orange light of
dawn coming through
our windows

Spared,
the both of us.

Cradle

I wish I could cradle Africa
In my arms; rock her
Gently to sleep
And let the world awake

To her beauty.





The Sun

Passing into Portuguese
Mozambique, over the
crest of the Swazi
mountains and descending
into tall palms, thatch
roofs lining the black
river roads, and bright
fabric blowing from the
back door of rusted,
packed pick-ups.

You were silent behind the wheel
or maybe you were singing;
Either way, the sun
came flickering down
through thick fronds,
throwing itself speckled
onto your browned skin, sweaty
and windblown. I wanted
to touch you, just lightly
brush your arm, or rest
my hand on your thigh,
as though we were lovers,
just to say, I want you,
and my hands will hold you
more concretely
than the sun.

Ancestors

My ancestors are creeping up around me. In my dreams they haunt me, taunting me with shrill songs and pregnant silences.

Yiayia stands, shrunken and small, at the front of a large hall. She is singing in soft crackling English I know she never knew.

Baba sits at the back, Mommy Iris by his side. She is alert and young and he shrivels beside her. His eyes are blank and distant, his mouth hanging open with too many years of speaking.

I have seen photographs of him in his younger days, his skin tight and healthy, his hair jet black and shining in the grey sunlight of the early ‘50s. I have heard stories of his temper, loud, angry and threatening like lightning. And I have heard Mommy Iris reminisce about him, long letters to me, nostalgic for days together in Atlanta, jogging in Boca, building homes in New Vernon.

We are too young for our grandparents, too young to appreciate them while there is time. Suddenly they are trapped only in our dreams and memories, in old photographs, and we are left with them as myths, legends of our own pasts.