I run circles around the last three years, try to channel my love
through the soles of my feet, to let it propel me through this crumbling,
North Carolina neighborhood instead of back to Harlem,
to your door, which I must stop imagining walking through,
yet here I go again, picturing window sills I filled with pots of verbena
and mint that you likely let die or left on the curb with the trash.
My love is stubborn as the mint that consumed my garden
when I abandoned it to move in with you: rhizomes spread deep
in every direction, impossible to contain. Now I run past vacant lots
and sagging, single-story houses, remembering your view:
the cathedral across the street whose stained-glass window
had been filled in with cement. Now it can’t be broken, can it?
Impenetrable fortress. Five hundred and sixty-three miles away,
I think of kissing on your couch, dropping garments
down the hall on the way to the bedroom. My psychic footpaths wear
through the varnish of your floors, so there are days I cannot stand
these dry leaves beneath my feet, how every step sounds
like a bandage ripping off. Bare branches scrape their forks and knives
against an empty plate of sky the dead might eat. The cracks in the sidewalk
take the shape of a womb. I bury our children there
and feed them one minute of daylight each day as I grow
too old to conceive them. Since you kicked me out, I’ve run
a hundred and ninety-seven miles, and most days, I pass the same little boy,
alone on his stoop. He always calls out, Whatcha runnin’ from?
Because I don’t have the heart to tell him I can’t stop chasing
someone who does not love me, I yell back, Nothing, I’m exercising.
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