Monday, January 30, 2006

The Table (2004)

Just as inside my father’s house there are many rooms
there are many spaces inside me
set aside and alcove and covered and open
some cluttered with things
others stripped bare
and other still simply dressed

I have prepared a table for you
I have dressed my devotion with olive leaves
myrrh and frankincense as a centerpiece
I have molded and glazed white china by hand

My space is not an island
or a lake
nor a valley so descended
that no man could swim it
it is a good meal for the hungry heart

This preoccupation with empty space
stays on my mind
keeps me up at night
wondering if you are safe
if you got home alright tonight.

You come to me so gently and easily
your smile a single brush stroke in the beauty of the man
created, not requisitioned
you come to me like a prevailing wind
a gentle rush in the ear
the simple weight of your hand
like west wind into a cavern
causes my heart to become full and breathe back
I stumble in my fear only because of your promise
lush with possibility
your budding love green and growing
against the ruddy landscape is too close
to a heart that has been tilled too many times
and gown infertile

I remember past lovers like rivers that seemed to be headed for the ocean but
somehow were absorbed in the rock and sand
But as I skip these mental rocks across the water
they sink bottom
Indeed, large oceans are shallow pools with you

And I have been here before
a thing of ritual
a thing that you do only because you are preoccupied
with other things
small mundane things-- and you want the meal without the bill?

This pea shaped thought
is my irritant,

And so I deal silently with the truth
never wanting to be a habit
but simply, loved.

My idealism causes me
to turn over and over in my bed
missing the your smell
filling my space
with possibility that
rises like aching mother’s bathwater
or new breasts before bras.

My idealism
keeps me occupied
keeps me working late
keeps me telling bedtime stories to myself
reminding myself that this time is different
in a thousand different languages of disbelief
1001 tales of faith I lull myself to sleep with
stories I say to save my life

I could say I don't want you here
messing up my decor, eating what you did not grow or cook.
but that would be dishonest
so perhaps it would be more honest simply to say
I need you to recall your resolve with the same bold voice
you used that day you looked me in the eye and said
"It would be hard for any man to give you up.”
I need you to decide if
your small newfound swaddled kisses
will find rest in the cradle of my neck
I need you to sit or walk away
I need you to be a man
even if you can’t be mine

Because you have awakened a gentle reigning longing inside me
that collects on my lofty absurd platitudelullabieslulling on young ears
Until I am covered by drops of you
until I am warm with a rush of spirit
the kind you get when you ride a bike for the first time on your own
without the training wheels

But we all must fall.

We all nurse tender wounded knees
not knowing which hurts more, the fall or the wound
neither knowing the answer nor understanding the question.

I am wholly convinced
in a way that no
sane black woman should be
that I have given you
me because I am mine to give
and yours to receive

I have prepared raisins to refresh us
insurmountable landscapes

The drink of
spans sky spaces
The question
sits in an empty chair
heavy, wounded, and full
for the response

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