Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Wilde Woman of Aiken by Robin Coste Lewis

The Wilde Woman of Aiken


                     Albumen photograph on Orange Mount
                      J. A. Palmer, 1882

I am not supposed to be
beautiful. I am not
supposed to sit
before the observant eye
of a sunflower. I am incapable
of having a voice
like a robin’s singing
of springtime’s newborn impatiens,
its balsams and touch-me-nots
crouched so low to the ground.
Vases and I are not permitted
to dally. If I were a name,
it would be Wall
paper. My hair is made
of a million breathing paisleys.
For five thousand years,
I have listened to you
think aloud about a world
that does now exist.
I am sitting here,
in the open,
and you are there, dripping
beneath your dark
velvet, waiting for the light
to reach you.
I have wondered
where you really live,
why you cannot hear
all the glass inside your syllables
slide off the table
whenever your mouth
opens and is then closed.
The story has not even begun.
The only thing left inside
my hand is my own
quiet hand. I am the Fourth Sister.
My florets stand tougher
as golden angles. My head
is packed with eager seeds
crisscrossing in spirals
one hundred garlands long.
It’s over now.
About my wait, dark
and bright, there is this
satin sash the color of the sun
warmed eggplant
still fetching
on the vine.
prevent me.

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