as the fourth-largest city
in my country drowns
when I hear ghostly riders
from Katrina's muddy skirts
in Louisiana absconded
post-haste in their boats
for the Lone Star State, a rescue
cavalry to dream about,
a Creole sweetness of selfless
spirits in quick American
fleetness at its best, steel bows
knifing through waters
full of gators, snakes, fecal
dislodge, the salty Gulf in gulps
swallowing a blacktopped
jungle, plucking our people
from a wet grim reaper's claws.
In the dark room, air blows
Around my still body.
I become too aware of myself for comfort-
I see the outline of the window.
A square shaded by darkness
Surrounded by an even greater darkness.
Nothing is clear but these darknesses,
Of which I am the center.
Space makes no apology for depth.
There is trust between the space
And I- that even when I wake,
Everything will be as it were.
Whatever happens in between
Is not my business.
There is a girl called Southern Ugly,
She often faces the mirror- Believing
that the reflection must be oneself.
But a woman’s essence
Lives in the light, not in our eyes.
Mother Mary, dressed in blue-
Your daughter sees her face, knowing
That she is not first to be saved for Heaven.
We come second to God
(Though Man did not refuse the apple).
Mother said, “You are a southern belle,
Just baptized in the bayou.
Virgin in the water,
The depths of the swamp do not foster
Power nor Fortune
But your birth, the prayer of the Moon.
And like a cypress knee
That has not yet broken the surface,
You’re hidden in wisdom unknown."
The mouth of a flower opens-
two lips part, shouting to the sun
to swallow the fields
So light pours over, and
floods out the shadows
and the wind blows
waves of green
the tree is rooted, unmoved
by the tornado of day, which
swirls into the leaves
and folds the twigs of branches
together, clasping like fingers
as if to thank the sky for
all the movement it brings.
The springs offer no explanation that cannot be heeded.
My feet meet the water, which absorbs those sins that have calloused my soles.
The sight of you across the bank, under the cedar
Chills me with a sharp current.
I will never know why the cold water
Surrenders me softly to the Earth,
But grips me at the heart
When you appeared below the trees among
Their fallen leaves.
There are salamanders that live in the creek,
But they are so small, and exist so profoundly in the water
That only the people who have used their lives searching-
To protect them-
Have ever seen these blind animals.
You have never noticed me at the river,
But the river knows that I'm here
To guard the stretch of Earth that keeps us at our ends.
There was once a moment when
Nothing was called darkness.
I have never known nothingness
but I have felt darkness.
Darkness is anywhere that I am not
and everywhere that I will be.
It is on either side
of my life.
It is not shadows,
or a new moon.
Darkness is nothing.
if i give birth it will be in the handicap stall of a mall bathroom
on Sunday afternoon
and people are noticing how
i ain’t been to church in a while
and it’s funny
how some spaces, just out of necessity
make themselves into chapels
i don’t have holy water but
i do have this coke zero and
i don’t have wafers but momma
gave me some motrin this morning
if i get married it will be in one of those old dusty dug outs
where someone had scratched
into the wall and
daddy’s workin and momma’s sleepin so
i’m alone standing face to a man and God
i’ll wear my helmet and black face paint coz
i don’t have my Sundays’ best
and it’s funny
how some spaces, just out of circumstance
must become a chapel
and when i leave Him
some, many nights later
i’ll go to midnight mass
and ask Mother Mary
how a stable must have felt