Four selections from “There Are No Names for Red”
after the paintings of Percival Everett
Crocodiles in the river remind us every gift is hard won.
Perhaps it is the mud that makes the arrow-tips of rice so green.
The problem with caves is that we must enter them.
Did you say that, Percival?
Ghosts in the morning rain. When it is over,
the rain is never enough.
Of course I hated the Mau Mau growing up. They killed
women who looked like my mother.
They wore the face of my father. I have to
throw this baby out with the bathwater.
In the end it just happens.
Reasons are only logs to bank the fire of hope.
In Rwanda, before the genocide, the word for rape was the same as marriage.
The idea of gestural fragments.
These are the spells, these are the spells: ant’s eggs for falling out of love.
The ghosts of washing drying on the line, like birds weaned at home.
The urge is to migrate, restless.
Some of our truest conversations are in diners.
My hands have known this experience
the making and breaking of my spirit in this craft.
In the nebulous frame of words.
Those stormy symphonies of Beethoven.
Figures of impossible dimensions.
There is something soft here. Smooth as a stone in water.
A trick of the light perhaps, or this: the cold nonchalance
of fate and all the beauty is nothing more than this
canvas, this skin and the hope we covet.
Also in other non-intended ways but touching. Canvas
heavy with salt after salt and salt and water,
the brine a knowledge and this sail unannealed like skin
and my grandmother dying, dying in the shower and water
all around her. This is not intended and yet the distance between
almost perfect and complete chaos is a hair’s breath.
Loose strands unravel and follow an idea.
In Berlin there are brass caps, square and green with time,
set into the paving stones that trip you.
You look down and see the names of those taken to the camps.
Stubbing stones they call them. Stolpersteine. And nobody knows
exactly who put them there. Turkish women in black
descend on us like a gaggle of crows. Yes, I said gaggle.
And what is gained? And what is lost?
What begs silence here is beyond even that.
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