Dark and Lovely After Take-Off (A Future)

Yona Harvey
Nobody straightens their hair anymore.
Space trips & limited air supplies will get you conscious quick.
 
My shea-buttered braids glow planetary
as I turn unconcerned, unburned by the pre-take-off bother.
 
“Leave it all behind,” my mother’d told me,
sweeping the last specs of copper thread from her front porch steps &
 
just as quick, she turned her back to me. Why
had she disappeared so suddenly behind that earthly door?
 
“Our people have made progress, but, perhaps,”
she’d said once, “not enough to guarantee safe voyage
 
to the Great Beyond,” beyond where Jesus
walked, rose, & ascended in the biblical tales that survived
 
above sprocket-punctured skylines &
desert-dusted runways jeweled with wrenches & sheet metal scraps.
 
She’d no doubt exhale with relief to know
ancient practice & belief died hard among the privileged, too.
 
Hundreds of missions passed & failed, but here
I was strapped in my seat, anticipating—what exactly?
 
Curved in prayer or remembrance of a hurt
so deep I couldn’t speak. Had that been me slammed to the ground, cuffed,
 
bulleted with pain as I danced with pain
I couldn’t shake loose, even as the cops aimed pistols at me,
 
my body & mind both disconnected
& connected & unable to freeze, though they shouted “freeze!”
 
like actors did on bad television.
They’d watched & thought they recognized me, generic or bland,
 
without my mother weeping like Mary,
Ruby, Idella, Geneava, or Ester stunned with a grief
 
our own countrymen refused to see, to
acknowledge or cease initiating, instigating, &
 
even mocking in the social networks,
ignorant frays bent and twisted like our DNA denied
 
but thriving and evident nonetheless—
You better believe the last things I saw when far off lifted
 
were Africa Africa Africa 
Africa Africa Africa Africa Africa...
 
& though it pained me to say it sooner:
the unmistakable absence of the Great Barrier Reef.

More by Yona Harvey

The Subject of Retreat

Your black coat is a door
in the storm. The snow
we don’t mention
clings to your boots & powders
& puffs. & poof. Goes.
Dust of the fallen. Right here
at home. The ache
of someone gone-missing. Walk it off
like a misspoken word.
Mound of snow. Closed door.
I could open it.

Or maybe just, you know—
brush it off.

Then what? The snow
on the other side. The sound
of what I know & your, no, inside it.

Hurricane

Four tickets left, I let her go—
Firstborn into a hurricane.

I thought she escaped
The floodwaters. No—but her

Head is empty of the drowned
For now—though she took

Her first breath below sea level.
Ahhh       awe       &       aw
Mama, let me go—she speaks

What every smart child knows—
To get grown you unlatch

Your hands from the grown
& up & up & up & up
She turns—latched in the seat

Of a hurricane. You let
Your girl what? You let

Your girl what?
I did so she do I did
so she do so—

Girl, you can ride
A hurricane & she do
& she do & she do & she do

She do make my river
An ocean. Memorial,
Baptist, Protestant birth—my girl

Walked away from a hurricane.
& she do & she do & she do & she do
She do take my hand a while longer.

The haunts in my pocket
I’ll keep to a hum: Katrina was
a woman I knew. When you were

an infant she rained on you & she

do & she do & she do & she do

Gingivitis, Notes on Fear

I hesitate invoking that
my daughter's mouth
not her first vanity
she tastes & smoothes
her chin this way & that,
bones replacing the fallen. 
it repairs itself: two
   forming new words:
      brushing past


What is the tongue-
between trauma &
Incident &


Think


There is so much to fear.


& now my second-born,


brush, he says,



doubled emptiness: open—
in the bathroom mirror—
but first blook inkling
with her tongue. She turns
anticipating her future: new
If the body survives,
pillars—wider, stronger
   adolescent declarations
      seasoned gums


span
terror?
accident?


on these things.


How will we fear it all?


my son:          If I don't


a disease will attack my gums.
 

 

Related Poems

American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin [Even the most kindhearted white woman]

Even the most kindhearted white woman,
Dragging herself through traffic with her nails
On the wheel & her head in a chamber of black
Modern American music may begin, almost
Carelessly, to breathe n-words. Yes, even the most
Bespectacled hallucination cruising the lanes
Of America may find her tongue curls inward,
Entangling her windpipe, her vents, toes & pedals
When she drives alone. Even the most made up
Layers of persona in a two- or four-door vehicle
Sealed in a fountain of bass & black boys
Chanting n-words may begin to chant inwardly
Softly before she can catch herself. Of course,
After that, what is inward, is absorbed.