SHE HAD TOLD THE WRONG MAN
AND SHE WAS THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN
ON THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE STAMP:
A NOVELIST, HER NAME IS NELLA LARSEN
Quicksand beauty describes herself
and she's with Langston, too,
and Langston knows, yes he does, Langston knows.
She is the book woman
in a black church listening
to the white preacher.
She is quicksand, not liked
because she can't conform.
Even her lover distances himself.
And she does like the feel of silk on skin.
The one who has no home knows
and carries dark threads
in the soiled fabric as traceable shops.
Whirling leaves twisting during worship
and she can hear the tom-toms
if she can't see them. Give it up.
Gave it up. It would be useless
to tell and to tell is the cost of assurance.
Calm, cool girl bearing the courageous,
a beginning in luster itself.
Isn't she the dancing unicorn.
Larsen watches because she can
what's going on and how to see it
She participates, but she's outside of all
she could be lost or saved
any moment failing to obliterate
glamour entices beyond alcohol
left with civility's hangover
hanging on to things and travel
hadn't it been enough of too much
One who knows quicksand
retains the sound of sea in her ear
O Pregnancy! O Pastoral Mercies!
(Please God, release her from the smells of the kitchen.)
(From cleaning house.)
(Spell her!) (Spell her!)
Past pleasant life gone
Reverend Mr. Pleasant Green!
She took it all the way until she could say
I have ruined my life to kingdom come
and into the next of all beyond
ruined my beauty too to come home to you
Not to be born, not to be carried
Not again no not no
born again for me
She had she had she had
told it to the wrong man
In passing the outward appearance
is noted on the envelope
it could have been in the travel
the envelope itself never opened
24-31 July 2020