Climbing China’s Great Wall

Afaa Michael Weaver - 1951-

This wall is a great stairway, walls
are things that shoot up, keep out, line
the places where we mark the halls

that carry our names. The busts
of this one and that one, this history
is in the hard labor of hearts, thrusts

of piston and valve. I sit down
at the first house, dizzy at the view
over the wall, the tourist town

below us, in buildings made old
by the deliberate hand of business,
not the rain, the sun, the untold

billions of raindrops and tear drops
of soldiers wishing for the lovers
they left behind, untended crops,

mothers weaving braids of grief
in their hair. A little old woman
bounces past me, leaping the brief

weld of stone to stone, the stairs
the legend and skeleton of the wall,
where white cranes dance in pairs.

More by Afaa Michael Weaver

My Father's Geography

I was parading the Côte d'Azur,
hopping the short trains from Nice to Cannes,
following the maze of streets in Monte Carlo
to the hill that overlooks the ville.
A woman fed me pâté in the afternoon,
calling from her stall to offer me more.
At breakfast I talked in French with an old man
about what he loved about America--the Kennedys.

On the beaches I walked and watched
topless women sunbathe and swim,
loving both home and being so far from it.

At a phone looking to Africa over the Mediterranean,
I called my father, and, missing me, he said,
"You almost home boy.  Go on cross that sea!"