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.)

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