The Ark: Self-Portrait as Aphrodite Using Her Dress for a Sail, ii.

Early morning. Still dark. I am in a taxi. The most elegant ‘ti Creole in the world is on the radio. I catch a sliver and think how one tiny word can be sacred—an artifact—the only green thing that returns inside the beak.


We stop at a toll. It is just a toll—a toll like any toll—but I am thinking, We are all the children of migrants, none of us come from here. And I wonder if the toll-taker ever imagined that one day it would be this black mask in the back seat, or that red mask on the driver.

The toll-taker smiles. I smile. We all smile. It is nine degrees outside. For a moment I am underwater and can’t remember which city I am in. Not Boston, but London, Dublin maybe. Or maybe cities no longer exist. Maybe they are all beginning to shrink away, plane by plane, brick by brick. A woman lying dead on her couch for three years watching television.

And then, perhaps because I am suddenly unsure of which town I am in, or which town I will be in by evening, the thought to pass through my mind next is, And just what is so wrong with being destroyed?

From To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness (Alfred A. Knopf, 2022) by Robin Coste Lewis. Used with the permission of the publisher.