Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
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I see for the first time the stretch of my adolescence:
A trace of graffiti that beckoned me through a strange and drafty tunnel.

Under the pavement, I was so willing to wait it out. As each car passed above,
A sliver of light from a manhole would wink shut: Was I vanishing?

Instead of returning: Eyes wincing open in disbelief at a woman in a faded T-shirt
Who waves to me now from the front stoop of her apartment complex.

How long was I under?

And who rescued me?

At a cocktail party after work,
A small girl runs through adult legs.

She ducks beneath a chair, spying my every move,
Watching the way I furrow my brow or tilt my head back to laugh.


I feel for the first time the waste of my adolescence.

I should sprint. Instead, I vomit in the chalked lines
Of a football field, swaying back and forth until all parallels blur into one.

I should shake my friend, who forgets who he is after too many shots of bourbon,
The flashing strobe, and merciless skyline of shirtless men.

I should name this ache. Call it archive fever.

In 1992 a man, a translator, a scholar, a poet,
Warned us before dying of AIDS, “I will be somewhere listening for my name . . . ”

Why haven’t I heard of him until now?
What else was left out?

Without a record, they were two “old maids.”

They were never two “old maids”

falling onto a bed at the local Y.

Dorothy thinking herself cosmopolitan in her black beret.
Peg in her skirt suit, electric with passion and temper.

Shoes kicked off, one lies back as the other

Helps to slip off the day’s stiff garments.
First the eyes and hooks unfastened, then each

Nylon stocking shimmied down the knee,
Peeled off the foot, before the startling relief, sweet

Gleam of skin of a body surviving time,
Still in mint condition, now lifted, in soft light, like a rare

Coin from its sleeve.

In my palm, a copper penny still gleaming.

And my lover with a look of mischief walking closer.

And Melvin Dixon too exhausted to translate Senghor.

And Melvin Dixon while hearing a voice, suddenly, lovingly calling his name.

And Peg dragging her schnauzer out for an evening walk,

And Dorothy ordering a steak well done,

And a small girl with eyes bent on a rerun of Robin Hood, longing to vanish in the forest

Drops her knife at the kitchen table to announce, Call me Bow.


Where there is
No lineage, no record,
No quantifiable
Proof, there are
Myths, and where
There is no myth,
There are traces.


For the first time I make it up, the stretches in-between.

It’s 1989. Flying to Paris on the Concorde
At twice the speed of sound,
Dorothy turns to Peg:

Ready at last for our rendezvous cross the Atlantic?

Here comes the stewardess.
Need a pillow? Lift your head. There.

Of course, I didn't forget to bring them. Peg, how could I?
You’ve never in all these years let me forget a thing.

Don’t worry. Soon we’ll be there.
Two old dames storming the Bastille. I think I feel it.

A change in pressure
As the engine starts to accelerate.
When we reach Mach 2, we won’t hear a thing.
As the droop nose angles and the Delta wings slice through,
As the sun moves backwards and our conveyance outruns it.

We will leave a thick white hole in the sky.
We’ll leave a blast, a crack,
A boom, my dear.
A boom.  end

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