– Patricia Smith –

It is wrenching, really, the way I have to take
his head in my hands and say Baby, something
will happen soon
. The reckless of us will slap
someone’s expected ‘round. Our threaded
mismatched fingers screech This tilted life
Lover, I am bomb-hued, napped, savvy about
the way this world sedates and separates.
When I was four, my nana wrapped around me,
whispered lynch directly into my ear, read me
Emmett Till’s imploded eye like a bedtime
story. When I tell my lover the tale, changing
the names to protect the deluded, it fails to
daze his democratic hum. He nods heartily
and mistakes the bloodied moral for a bluish
ballad peppered with a soil he thinks he knows.

Yes, I will regret his eyes when nigger blurs
the air from the lowered window of a passing car,
when a colored elder strolling by sets blaze to us.
But tonight my white man makes me tea. He dips
a splintered thumb in peppermint, brushes a cool
line along the cleft of my tongue.We fold slow
into a single chair, writhe purposefully to insistent
moonwash and a new-age embarrassment of bells.
Our two huge dogs bound in, gasping, dripping
a gray rain. They shake out parties. Our home
sighs its locks shut, siphons our tangle of hue.