Woman, I wish I didn't know your name. What could you be? Silence in my house & the front yard where the dogwood wouldn't make up its mind about flowers. Aren't you Nature? A stem cringing, half- shadowed beneath a torque of rain. I too am leaving. I too am half-spun. The other day near the river I bent down & Narcissus turned his immaculate mouth away, refusing to caress my howls. Silence in the trees all around the shotgun house & that scent of cedar whenever I dream. I turn the light around on the ground, sweeping the red mud, holding the light like a rattler. Like a hood of poison, fitted over my face. Cobra woman, slicked with copperhead flutes. I too am fleeing. My face born in a caul of music. Bravado. The men come into the yard & pull all my clothes off, walk me into the house, into my own kitchen. Tell me not to say say I'm wrong.
for Michele Antoinette Pray-Griffiths
Ordinary days deliver joy easily
again & I can't take it. If I could tell you
how her eyes laughed or describe
the rage of her suffering, I must
admit that lately my memories
are sometimes like a color
warping in my blue mind.
Metal abandoned in rain.
My mother will not move.
Which is to say that
sometimes the true color of
her casket jumps from my head
like something burnt down
in the genesis of a struck flame.
Which is to say that I miss
the mind I had when I had
my mother. I own what is yet.
Which means I am already
holding my own absence
in faith. I still carry a faded slip of paper
where she once wrote a word
with a pencil & crossed it out.
From tree to tree, around her grave
I have walked, & turned back
if only to remind myself
that there are some kinds of
peace, which will not be
moved. How awful to have such
wonder. The final way wonder itself
opened beneath my mother's face
at the last moment. As if she was
a small girl kneeling in a puddle
& looking at her face for the first time,
her fingers gripping the loud,
wet rim of the universe.