Those Great Lake Winds
Blow all around:
I'm a light-coat man
In a heavy-coat town.
— Waring Cuney
Yellow freesia arc like twining arms;
I'm buying shower curtains, smoke alarms,
And Washington, and you, Love — states away.
The clouds are flat. The sky is going grey.
I'm fiddling with the juice jug, honey pot,
White chrysanthemums that I just bought.
At home, there is a violet, 3-D moon
And pachysandra vines for me to prune,
And old men with checkered shirts, suspenders,
Paper bags and Cutty bottles, menders
Of frayed things and balding summer lawns,
Watching TV baseball, shelling prawns.
The women that we love! Their slit-eyed ways
Of telling us to mind, po-eyed dismays.
We need these folks, each one of them. We do.
The insides of my wrists still ache with you.
Does the South watch over wandering ones
Under different moons and different suns?
I have my mother's copper ramekin,
A cigar box to keep your letters in.
At least the swirl ceilings are very high,
And the Super's rummy, sort of sly.
I saw a slate-branched tree sway from the roots —
I've got to buy some proper, winter boots.
So many boxes! Crates and crates of books.
I must get oil soap, bleach, picture hooks.
A sidewalk crack in Washington, D.C.
Will feed my city dirt roots. Wait for me.
Published in The Venus Hottentot (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1990).
© 2009 Elizabeth Alexander and Southern Spaces