“Beautiful Women Don’t Make Good Wives”
“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint,or even remember it. It is enough.” --Toni Morrison
This woman calls him man.
The mother of his unborn child, moon bud.
No play pretty—she is
delta of his sax’s flesh.
She is all the children gone to sea for baptism,
She would be arrested for stealing soap.
Blood seeps through mattresses—must be turned over or not used at all.
Not every stain a symbol, it’s a bed with blood on it.
Dying lying beside an ocean in a belly.
She pressed her breath into his collar bone and it didn’t break.
He didn’t see death coming. She saw.
Beds made for unsound. She says after,
I did not live for grief.
You can do it alone. The birds hardly notice the sea; they eat hearts of
berries of roses clustered on the ends of trees, red jawed against black—Cherokee Sound.
My own grandmother washed our panties and wondered about me.
They were only wet with sweat.
My mother, a woman once in dark sunglasses and a Harley shirt,
had wetness for eyes.
This woman calls herself, See. woman water bird
*The title is taken from Portia Sands, referred to by Jodi Minnis in her video installation, “TheGaulin—She went to the water.” The poem is for Fred Hampton’s fiancé, Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson), she who slept next to him while police shot into their bed.