Tea Plantations and Women in Black

It is dusk in the city and here in the mountains,

inside the thick green way of a place where rain

is breath, and summer mist the gas that lets

you dream of being lost, cast away in a paradise

 

that is not a paradise for those who live here.

I am too familiar to nightmares that pushed me

here to hide from them, but they sit on the edge

of the sun’s light pushing down into morning

 

in the middle of the Atlantic.  The tea comes

with a young woman who stares at me, the black

she has heard of, the black she cannot see, and

we light the fire in the table, hear it puff up.

 

I am full of reasons, strings of hurt I cannot let

loose here where no one knows the sirens on corners

of black homes, hard hands on the grips of guns,

bullets made for Nat Turner and Gabriel Prosser,

 

or for me, black man daring to live, black man

following the trance of women tipping on loose

stone tablets of sidewalks in thin, black dresses

under parasols to hide them from the sun.

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