Grade A: A Continent

Written in Albuquerque (Terrace SE), October 2005.  Published in my books If I Could Be the Stone and Wings of the Gray Moon, and in the local zine Central Avenue.

A Continent


I have watched Africa creep closer,

then back away again.


(Or one of many Africas.

  There are more small ones than I know about, probably.)


Mother’s bones are there somewhere

of course, her ingenious straight bones.


And something that unleashes red-eyed men is there,

their swords fast and heavy through meat like the meat of flowers.


And the things that group in the high grass are there.

I am already getting my carcass picked beneath a tree shaped like burnt lightning.


And there are swords that buzz like flies

and work in babies’ blood.


I am not bothered by the years on years I sidled against its West shores in my fat ship.

I am not bothered, I am lifted, by its great scream of prevailing.


I think instead—though the light is insecure—it is really

a tattoo on the back of my hand, the shape of Africa, that creeps close and backs away, that I don’t remember getting.


I am afraid my own hand is slapping out screams

that will need to be followed.


(Or one of my many hands.

  They multiplied in my absence, while I waited for Africa.)