She bares her skin above her breasts
by pulling her blouse open with both hands
and smiles, her gamine blush meeting the dare
the photographer does not win, ever:
ouroborous, heart’s fire, bear claw tattoos
and where else are we to go to ink skin
that will not run when passion’s arc is high
enough to bring you down to earth and melt.
It is her hands that lure me most of all,
the bone and sinew of the working class . . .
all her life making and preserving life
is hard but worth it keeping death at bay,
scrape and shouldering of the constant load
that weighs her down and her heart pulls her up
to front the facts, see all for what they are
in here, out there, wherever they appear.
She is my friend, this photograph I love
of one I may never touch, but I will
with these eyes, they are so blessed with beauty
before me, behind me, under me, over me.
I take this song from the church and Night Chant
Navajos say. I take her to my heart,
I fire the skin of the body’s passion
and feel it burn until the flame roars high.
And when I rest, ashes and bones urn bound,
and having swallowed my beginning with my end
between the Mississippi and the Pacific,
while you drowse above the Hudson
and do not know where I have gone, I am
become devil in my need to find God
to tell Him to His face what infamy
His name engenders in death’s history.
I will cover the reach of the long grass
and touch you sleeping, dreaming of the flow
and its sound, and do not want to wake you
but wait for your words to reach me someday
wherever we are by then, and the storm
in full dudgeon, my bowl of a city
under attack from the hurricane gulf,
and I dwelling in this white city by the sea.
(26 June 2011)
copyright 2011 by Floyce Alexander