Virginia Is for Lovers
At LaToya’s Pride picnic,
Leonard tells me he and his longtime
love, Pete, broke up.
He says Pete gave him the house
in Virginia. “Great,” I say,
“that’s the least his ass could do.”
I daydream my friend and me
into his new house, sit us in the kitchen
of his three bedroom, two bath
brick colonial outside Hungry Mother Park,
where, legend has it, the Shawnee raided
settlements with the wherewithal
of wild children catching pigeons.
A woman and her androgynous child
escaped, wandering the wilderness,
stuffing their mouths with the bark
of chokecherry root.
Such was the circumstance
under which the woman collapsed.
The child, who could say nothing
except hungry mother, led help
to the mountain where the woman lay,
swelling as wood swells in humid air.
Leonard’s mouth is moving.
Two boys hit a shuttlecock back and forth
across an invisible net.
A toddler struggles to pull her wagon
from a sandbox. “No,” Leonard says,
“It’s not a place where you live.
I got the H In V. H I—”
Before my friend could finish,
and as if he’d been newly ordained,
I took his hands and kissed them.
Nicole Sealey is the author of The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the 2015 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole is a Cave Canem graduate fellow as well as the recipient of a 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation Grant. Her other honors include the 2014 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American Poetry Review, a 2013 Daniel Varoujan Award and the 2012 Poetry International Prize. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets 2011, Copper Nickel, Ploughshares, Third Coast, and elsewhere. Nicole holds an MLA in Africana Studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. She is the Programs Director at Cave Canem Foundation.
This poem previously appeared in The American Poetry Review.