This artist’s sculptured, open box of mahogany
(ivory white inside) is strung
with vertical and horizontal layers of mus-
ical wires that sing when struck, and bits of bright garnet
rock tremble where they intersect.
These gems flash in the candle light,
and before me all my beloved childhood looms up
in the humming levels, each one deeper than the other.
I tip this sculpted box and my child laughs and moves there
in his own time. You’ll hear me moan:
Oh, you will hear me moan with all the old, sure pleasure
of what I’d thought I’d lost come back again.
Why, we have never left our home!
On the leather lace fixed about my neck, blue, yellow,
red and black African trading beads begin to glow:
their colors all weave and newly flow
together like translucent and angelic worms.
And beneath these my neck is as alive with gentle,
white bees as is a woman’s breast.
Beside and in the light river
figures come on stage exactly
as they are needed. I tell you, I conduct my own
act! A boy poses so youthfully,
so beautifully, his slim arms a graceful arrow
over his small, brown head, and he dives!
Limbs and body push supple as a whole school of fish.
And then his vacant place is taken by another—
a man dressed in denim and in boots of red rubber.
He is wrenched from the shore and pulled
through the fresh, bright stream by a kid
who tugs on one of his hands and holds a fishing rod.
And, too, this man is dragged in the opposite direction
by a red dog on a leash shaking his wet
great coat into the stippled light.
That man just sashayed: he zigzagged
this way and that. The man is me!
A bluejay does a dance for us!
He hops beside a tree that rises inside of me.
He half-glides, his iridescent,
blue back striking like a brush
of Gauguin on the bare canvas of the air and then:
he flies! leaving behind him a small, perfect feather,
which I find shades from blue to brown—
my brother’s color into mine.
Now in the space the diver and the booted fellow
left, my brother and I are there
fishing together, our poles glinting in the water.
My mouth moves. My eyes are alive!
I cry to my brother with joy.
For that bluejay was a messenger of what I want!
Gregory my friend and guide on this voyage seems benign.
He brushes my chest and my stretched,
naked arms open to the sun
with a branch of the fragrant pine.
“Be healed,” he chants with each glancing
stroke. “Be healed.” The needles prick my skin back into life,
and I go down to bathe my feet in the stream. The veins
form a light, mottled web along my white ankle.
I feel my kinship with the pine,
the jay, the luminescent stream
and with him—or is it with her,
the Mother? Gregory, my oracle, my teacher.
He leans there in the door of our tent by the river,
his face glowing, hair long and shining as a woman’s,
his belly fat with life—pregnant with the two of us:
my brother and I, unborn twins who lie entangled
in each other’s developing
limbs. Soon we will be born! He and I will taste of milk
for the very first time! And taste of strawberry pop
and of bright bananas. And we will eat, my brother
and I, a great, shining, autumn-red apple fallen
from our father’s tree as if from the long sky, and you
too will taste this apple with us,
for we all have the same mother, and her name is Grace.