Late Night Science

Monday, January 15, 2018
If reality and existence are debatable,
if I may not be here,
then maybe when I turned from the TV to watch winter
instead I really did go back to Mrs. Newsome’s sixth-grade class,
maybe she and I really were talking, she hugging me,
me forgiving her for laughing at my big feet,
for taking one look at those aircraft carriers
and confirming, yes, they were huge and everyone could see
it. And thank you Mrs. Newsome for not letting me go through life
fooling myself. You know, like Mississippi, how just hearing the word
is still scary, yet we all say it. My father was from Mississippi,
I got the feet from him even though the last time I saw him I wasn’t even walking,
had no idea someday I’d find winter interesting, that I’d grow up to be
the sort of person whose ex would catch pretending to be Chaka Khan,
singing my heart out to some imaginary, abstract painter
with a thing for poets. And, oh, Cy Twombly, what wouldn’t I do
to know what you thought about Black people and how sad to have to worry
about all my dead crushes’ politics, how Larkin ruined everything.
And my father, did I ever thank his son for the photos
he gave me, my brother, yes, but it’s hard to know what to call someone
I met in my thirties. And is existence yet another philosophical theory
I couldn’t remember if you put a gun to my head? Was that reality
that showed up after my divorce, constantly making me lose my keys,
dressing me in the same two pairs of pants with different blouses? And then
my new brother found me and suddenly I was wearing makeup again,
planning on the day when I’d take the pictures he gave me out of that Kinko’s bag
and put them in the kente cloth photo album that P bought me, yes,
sweet P who’d found his birth mother and thought it was the same thing.
And where do my father’s pictures fit considering everything
in that dining room cabinet? Should I at least write who he is on the bag
in case something happens, say, I leave behind my long, suffering feet
and become pure spirit, pure me. In case I find myself expanding
across the room, across all of North America—in case I become eternal
and without warning, know that I’ve always existed and that I always will
—bright light—everything I was going to say, said.
Monday, January 15, 2018