in the shower naked
he bends to suck
milk life
urge engulfs
we tumble into stream
barely able to separate
closed in by the enamel fist

before the mirror
he comes up as i look at myself
cups them and squeezes
they jump up hard
nipples in dance-ritual
he’s to my back
later i have a mirror
full of hand prints

laying down his arm makes a
pillow for the right one
fingers grasp flesh
he lens forward
takes the left one into
his mouth
bites gently
wakes the eagle
i take flight

Excerpted from African Sleeping Sickness

Related Links:
Wanda Coleman – Wikipedia
Wanda Coleman – Poetry Foundation

for Lois, deceased

he described you as a cracker battle axe
but the woman i met was thin and haint-like

i spoke to you as little as one can speak
to an in-law and get along
as did you
we never called one another by name
converse for the sake of function
biding, tolerant

whenever the three of us sat down together
he preached his gospel of civil rights
you silent, as was i
wishing he would let us be-each in her own distance

and as the social pressures of our miscegnation
ate away love
i tried to make him understand
the dangers

the whip has bitten into the back of the slave
clean through to the heart

sing dixie
wave the stars & bars

our marriage decomposed into a gangrenous animosity
no understanding-black or white

six years after divorce he called long distance
you were dying of colon cancer
your last wish
to see your grandchildren

he begged me to send the kids

i said no

and he will never understand

(excerpted from African Sleeping Sickness: Stories and Poems


Related Links:

What the Gin Rummy Queen Taught Me (poem)

Bedtime Story (poem)