Sections of the AIDS memorial quilt on display on Governors Island August 2014
Of the crowded ferry’s paying passengers, I was the only person
of discernable color; having the choice of Gustav Mahler or Dolly Parton,
as accompaniment to the thrum of the dun-colored waters
of Upper New York Bay, I chose the simple over the symphonic.
But what was I rightly to do with these (my) narrow hands
in that vast, green field, almost, fully aflower in grief?
My mother wakes & calls for me by my middle
name. She says, I had a piece of paper in my hand
& I twisted it; it smelled like ginger.
Ginger! O, Lamar, you would have loved it.
Her hands are limp & empty. Her heart
could well be wrapped in cotton, its beat is so faint.
If not failure at its most exquisite – a Polish cavalry
assailing German tanks – then what is it, this quickness
reduced to an eternal stillness?
The dead outnumber & litter the living. They mingle,
in daylight & darkness, with the dust atop framed photographs.
The flavor of root vegetables. And those of winter.
She was an agile, swift skiff.
My yoke everlasting.
These poems are not previously published.