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But you will attempt to learn him like Grandmama’s memory Bible verse

Black Leather bound and dust bitten, the verse about bending low like reeds in prayer.

you will be patient through nights when his shadow slides across the 3AM wall claiming

“I had to work late.”

You can warm him a plate, but don’t worry yourself too hard, at least he’s home.

You won’t understand him, but you will understand the snail’s trails of tears and snot. Suck it up.

you will spend a Month of Sundays kneeling until your knees bleed. You’ll beg

the divine for an oil lamp to peer into his chest  lined with landmines and firebombs and

maybe soil for a growing soul. But some souls be like project homes

boarded up and witnessing a street fight too murderous for fists.

You will sometimes hear gunshots beneath the timbre of his voice.

You can have resentment but often it will exhaust you like the tea kettle letting out a whistled sigh

As her belly burns on the eye of your stovetop. Then you’ll realize you too will burn and explode

Into a fresco of scorching smoke one day soon.

You can have his teeth. So solid, almost porcelain. His mouth is Toilet-like… so this helps you

not to cling so tightly to his words or changing promises.

You won’t understand the role of a wife.

Blossoming occasionally as would warmed over tree-top flowers. Peaceful and never screaming, never

Bribing the Sun to melt you down to dust for the Earth. He will tell you to endure, sweat, and forgive.

You can speak to him in his own language of cut and bite.

And it will mean more than anything you have ever mumbled in your sleep

You can visit the silk Lavender Roses at your Aunties grave and try to remember what she taught you

Of being a woman. You can understand the dead better than the living, sometimes.

She said the words Unconquerable and Phenomenal. You want these words to hold hands inside of you

As if they would spend a lifetime remaking you.

But you are not broken. You can be grateful for the lemon flavored sugar water, the pot of greens, and

And the sock-it-to-me pound cake only you make.

Grateful for your capacity for inconsolable sadness and Jazz music about the struggle

Grateful for thirsts, and begging, and shamefulness, and 3AM.

All these things have left you at his feet, and they will gather to watch you get up

You can understand your uninterpreted dreams about Mint Julips and Augusta sweet tea weddings

You can also replace them with dreams of Ethiopia. Your people, and your children borne of you

and the Sun come together. You and your golden children will drink from streams, and dance

to a rhythm you’ve known by heart since before you even had a body.

Dream of a marriage to brazen heat and love, and sanded over nights in Morroco without a boat.

But he is not the Sun,

And you won’t understand him

Although You can have him.

But if you keep him.

You can’t keep yourself.

 

Photo Cred: “The Flame”- Ekaterina Polyakova

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