Everything that was young went quickly,
the way his eyes met mine as soon as we

woke together in a room outside Nanjing,
feeling as if all the things that were falling

would fall and make their thunder, leave
us with the challenge of being happy,

all the things that felt given when gifts
were not just surprises, but what we

knew, what we hoped to take with us
to heaven, unbound by faults and sins,

not deceived the way we were when
the end came to what we knew of China,

landing me here. I am a wish in the skies
spun out from celestial space to be poor,

to be covered with black skin, a felt
quilt of a map with only one way to China — 

through pain as big as hogs squealing
at killing time on black farms in Alabama — 

the noise of death, the shrill needle
that turns clouds over to rip the air

above the cities where people are young
and all that is given is never taken away.

More Poems by Afaa Michael Weaver