afternoon poetry reading
she reads poems. he listens.
she speaks of a poet’s life, he nods.
I notice the nod, the look that passes
between them like an unbroken thread.
I notice the thread, the unbroken
look, the red juice of heart blood spattered
on his hands from her words, the star
that appears on her forehead from his look.
I think, how sweet. I am envious.
I know they are married. I imagine
them at the altar, a poem split into two
voices like the shank bone
broken to conform the eternal
covenant of freedom.
“You will be my people. I will be
your God,” He told Abraham, bondaging
souls for the trek across the desert
to come. “I will be your woman,
I take you as my man,” I imagine her
repeating in front of a long line of ancestors
holding their breath to see it accomplished.
she is not young any more, like me
and I do not know how many nights
she paced, like me, and how many
lovers she kissed and discarded before
this one. a man who loves to
hear her mouth forming words
in the intricate measure of hidden
meaning and sudden story.
I do not know if he had wives
before this one. writes the alimony
check with one hand gripped to the
regret or love spilling out of his insides
like an enchilada casserole with too
much cheese. I do not know how they
found each other whether it was
or a soft remembrance like a dream
on the tip of the mind’s edge
but I count the nods, the looks, the pride
I sense coming though the pores of his
skin. I can only see the back of
his head but I already know—
just as the famished
knows what the diner ate by the tilt of
satisfaction in his chin, just as the enslaved
knows what stars would fall
into her hands if she but
slipped off the chains.
© Wendy Brown-Baez
from Ceremonies of the Spirit