Lauren K. Alleyne
For Frank X Walker FXW: I don’t know how to swim Me: What?! FXW: There were no pools for Black Folk when I was coming up In sleep’s 3-D theatre: home, a green island surrounded by the blue of ocean. Zoom to the heart, see the Couva swimming pool filled with us —black children shrieking our joy in a haze of sun; our life- guard, Rodney, his skin flawless and gleaming—black as fresh oil —his strut along the pool’s edge, his swoonworthy smile; Daddy a beach-ball-bellied Poseidon, droplets diamonding his afro; my brother, hollering as he jumps into his bright blue fear, his return to air gasping and triumphant. And there, the girl I was: dumpling thick and sun-brown, stripped down to the red two-piece suit my mother had made by hand, afloat in the blue bed of water, the blue sky beaming above. When I wake up, I’m in America where Dorothy Dandridge once emptied a pool with her pinkie, and in Texas a black girl’s body draped in its hopeful, tasseled bikini, struck earth instead of water, a policeman’s blue-clad knees pinning her back, her indigo wail a siren. I want this to be a dream, but I am awake and in this place where the only blue named home is a song and we are meant to sink, to sputter, to drown.