for Charmian Kittredge London

1.      House made of breath exhaled from wooden ribs.
2.      Dale Carnegie’s name scribbled on a cream closet door.
3.      A nautilus shell eating a light bulb sheds the softest light.
4.      Calabashes painted grey sway from their ropes whenever the earth shakes. (Someone tried to mute their color).
5.      She designed the house so that it would never burn.
6.      The rock patio has a pyramid-shaped staircase that leads up and over the edge.
7.      Left unattended, I slid every window latch open, shimmied through sliding doors.
8.      You could hear the red-breasted robins singing from the second floor.
9.      The silver painted wallpaper came off on my fingertips.
10.    What they thought was a guest room was actually her office.
11.    When the state cataloged the house, everyone forgot she was a writer.
12.     It never burned.
13.     Bays and oaks move closer to the house. (Hear their leaves whisper?)
14.     Though they'll cover the fountain in the sun-filled dining room, its waters will keep broadcasting to future visitors.

Copyright © 2021 by Iris Jamahl Dunkle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 8, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

This is not a small voice
you hear               this is a large
voice coming out of these cities.
This is the voice of LaTanya.
Kadesha. Shaniqua. This
is the voice of Antoine.
Darryl. Shaquille.
Running over waters
navigating the hallways
of our schools spilling out
on the corners of our cities and
no epitaphs spill out of their river mouths.

This is not a small love
you hear               this is a large
love, a passion for kissing learning
on its face.
This is a love that crowns the feet with hands
that nourishes, conceives, feels the water sails
mends the children,
folds them inside our history where they
toast more than the flesh
where they suck the bones of the alphabet
and spit out closed vowels.
This is a love colored with iron and lace.
This is a love initialed Black Genius.

This is not a small voice
you hear.

From Wounded in the House of a Friend. Copyright © 1995 by Sonia Sanchez. Used with the permission of Beacon Press.