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Boxed or When I Consider the African-American.

for Terrance Hayes
I.
 The poet pokes her pinpoint nose into the mix & although I did not
solicit her opinions or attentions says, I like your older, less
discursive work.
 I nod because it is the thing I have been trained to do, know she means
the black girl stories, black boys, beauty shops, beat boxing on some
stoop, each full up with metaphor, translation, bedeviled tongue (this
of mine), full up with places I should've been/have been/should be,
the metaphors she expects, does not know intimately but expects she
knows, wants to know for some reason all her own.
II.
Dear Reader: this is a box in the box a triangle in the
triangle a circle in the circle a period in the period a world,
jury-rigged with meaning, but just one world. Still, it is easy to do
& so let us not forget the box, its shape & form, its lyric
implication, discursive meaning in opposition to (in use off) other
forms. Though, true. Abstracted it is a box. In narrative it is a box.
Combined: two forms, superimposed, deepened &
deepening, something more into which we reach, something more from which
we emerge.
 *
Oh, let us say it thus:
 what is the use of
 color if there is to be
 only one sunrise,
 repeating its shallow
 heart over & over?
Oh, let us say it thus:
 this is tautological,
 repetitive &
 repeating.
III.
T,
I know you see it, this, where I am, in the circle, in the box, the
period emphasizing some finality, all the while: trying to make
something of it like some loopy cook, arms & digits mucked with
flour, tossing ingredients. So what if it is pasta w/pigs feet, cornmeal
w/scallops surely there must be room for the confluence of languages
(flavas!) in some place other than my head. Isn't spanglish a
thing? Isn't tuckus a butt? Pass me the damned pie pan, man!
Let us say it thus: there are too many angles & too few roundabouts.
T, I'm at the Starbucks wanting gingerbeer, at Safeway hoping for
danger. The unexpected is our last horizon & where else are we to
poke, to cook, to talk in our peculiar way?
You asked a question, although I am not sure a question was your
intention. Here is my answer:
When I
 consider the African-American I conflate, think a lyric, peaceful,
hushing branch covered with snow, its slow, inevitable bow, the heavy
aggregate dropping, the inevitable swift snap back, to, upwards.
When I consider the African-American I think of that poet, her choice of
words, where she would have me & mine, the locus from which she
would take me & what she would take from me. I think of your
daughter, the sweet, fat body I held so many years ago, how she
transforms, year by year into something long, narrow, her eyes wider
than a child's eyes, her fingers, longer than a child's
fingers, as if she is reaching for something not quite hers just yet, as
if she has already seen something not quite hers just yet. & I pray,
think of her body as our body, its vessel clean & clear for now, its
inhabitant treasured & clean for now, not bowed to the ground by
discourse or lyric but erect on its own & shooting, shooting. 


CRYSTAL WILLIAMS is the author of two poetry collections, Kin and Lunatic. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies. She is on faculty at Reed College and divides her time between Portland and Chicago.
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Title Annotation:two poems
Author:Williams, Crystal
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Jul 1, 2007
Words:659
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