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.