Walk On, Walk Away

- 1951-

Can we just stay here in the space where our loud laughing
won’t disturb the mausoleum of St. Peter, three times denying
the purple iris, can we hobble the horses to the hitching post
in front of the post office and let everything fall out of where
we put it to be delivered, can we call the night choir of crickets
down here to make the road home sing while the lightning bugs
show us the way to a happy wages of sin so then we will not dare
cry when the trumpet hits the high note of getting up in the                       morning,
going back to be counted by the straw bosses, and to count them,
making note of how sure this Earth is, this world of work we                       define
ourselves, as long as we know it will need us, as long as guarantees
paint themselves against the invisible ley lines pulling mountains
together, summoning snow caps in California over the broad                       brown
hills laying up to hear God’s whims like fallen but contented                       angels.

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!"

Related Poems

Coming Close

Take this quiet woman, she has been
standing before a polishing wheel
for over three hours, and she lacks
twenty minutes before she can take
a lunch break. Is she a woman?
Consider the arms as they press
the long brass tube against the buffer,
they are striated along the triceps,
the three heads of which clearly show.
Consider the fine dusting of dark down
above the upper lip, and the beads
of sweat that run from under the red
kerchief across the brow and are wiped
away with a blackening wrist band
in one odd motion a child might make
to say No! No! You must come closer
to find out, you must hang your tie
and jacket in one of the lockers
in favor of a black smock, you must
be prepared to spend shift after shift
hauling off the metal trays of stock,
bowing first, knees bent for a purchase, 
then lifting with a gasp, the first word 
of tenderness between the two of you,
then you must bring new trays of dull
unpolished tubes. You must feed her,
as they say in the language of the place.
Make no mistake, the place has a language,
and if by some luck the power were cut,
the wheel slowed to a stop so that you
suddenly saw it was not a solid object
but so many separate bristles forming
in motion a perfect circle, she would turn
to you and say, "Why?" Not the old why
of why must I spend five nights a week?
Just, "Why?" Even if by some magic 
you knew, you wouldn't dare speak
for fear of her laughter, which now
you have anyway as she places the five
tapering fingers of her filthy hand
on the arm of your white shirt to mark
you for your own, now and forever.