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TWO POEMS

 

by Elizabeth Spenst

        

                                                                                        

     FIRST LOVE (for Jordan)

My nights know necessity. - Karisma Price

 

We are known together now

Bong, Stoop Lady, Panama, Wine Uncle

All attend our comings and goings from this home

 

In a world of our own needs

We giggle on each other’s lips

Sip and spill water on the other’s sweater

 

Your glass teeth break into my arm

I say ow but mean I love you

You say sorry but mean this will happen again

 

And we make meanings of each other

’s idiosyncrasies Your

short breaths and my long walks

 

It all makes sense, and we need

Each other need our people need

To see this through as far as we’ll let the other

 

       Do I know you?

       Do you know me?

       Tell people you know me.

 

       We go together now, like glass in my mouth

     AMERICAN STORY

 

1776 - Litchfield, Connecticut

 

Vira and Candace arrived at the house as wedding presents. Each held the other’s childish hand tight, crossing the threshold of a new life. Little goodbye for their mothers. Little goodbye for what little else could have happened. The years pass and the house grows. Noses are wiped, floors shine and muscles ache. Labor is inevitable, as is lust. Vira is pregnant and the girls whisper at night, feeling for what is possible in the dark. Here is the truth: they are 22 and will never have the right to be free. Here is the truth: The child in Vira’s belly will be free when he is 21. All that is possible evades what is true. A new life makes everything possible – the family runs away in the dark. When day breaks and the house is still, an advertisement is placed in the paper. A short thick wench, round faced. A tall strait wench of a yellow complexion. Here they are, however awfully. Freedom captured in the archive. Vira has her boy – Alfred. Candace holds him gently while Vira rests, humming softly to their little gift.

 

A simple inlet

Where no one else is hunted

    Follow the tide out

* * *

Elizabeth Spenst is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and critic whose work has appeared in Rattle, On the Seawall, and ARTS.BLACK. She’s participated in workshops and readings with Cave Canem and the Decolonizing Poetry Collective. A daughter of Trinidadian and Mennonite diasporas, she’s currently at home in Brooklyn, NY.

TUSKEGEE REVIEW

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