the sun is retreating from yet another day that wishes to lay claim
over our bodies & my friends have taken to the streets in my name.
i would like to imagine they are an ocean, an endless fog
closing in on those that wish to do us harm. i would like to think
the eager crowd is made up entirely of those i have called for comfort when the night
trapped me beneath the weight of its claws & did not allow me any rest
the ones who offered up their living rooms so i could spill
over their floors & invoke the face of a lover who left & never came back.
i would like to think even the dead are among them — my grandmother
awake from her slumber, twirling to a bit of calypso while leading the front lines.
i know comrades are the ones you brush shoulders with during war
but friends, in place of my body, i wish you a silhouette glowing
with distant stars. i wish you ghost hands reaching from the crowd
a forgiving brace for your erected fists. i wish you the howl of a horn
from the hillside & a storm of everyone you love, who have lost
their bodies, throwing whatever they have left into the fray.
& i hear
& i am told that
i have no choice.
& still i choose.
this place. this city.
the sharpest blade i have
is where i place my body
& all at once i am drinking in the fog
from a hot mug of tea & my fingers
are on the lap of a woman who is in love
with how my entire body is on her couch & nowhere else
& all at once i am peering across the crater of the mississippi
& there is water crashing at the bottom of the ravine & of course
the earth is best at splitting open the unmovable
to craft a vision worth beholding & yet i am here
my two quiet feet in a slow kiss
with the grass of spring.
i am not sure i will survive being severed from this place
but until the metal crane descends from the sky & plucks me
from this country, i am laying the needle down on every
record & letting my memories out for a dance.
i am crafting a room out of them & filling it with people
i wish to see once more & i am spreading a meal on a table
wide enough for us to have a seat & never leave.
i want our voices to be the stirring thing in the middle
the biggest body of us all & the joy, a potent thing,
rattling & swallowing the whole house.
this rumbling home. this brilliant teasing.
i am safe. i am unreachable.
i am sinking my feet into a fading photograph.
& what can the devil take from you when all you own is in memory? when all that you value is sprawling & invisible to his greedy hands? i only need a moment's gaze to hold onto a thing forever. the eye, the mind’s camera me, master of the shutter. another second passes & i’ve captured myself a new place
of refuge. i’m saying my belongings are scattered among the faces of those i love. look at how many shelters i have conjured with the same tools & much less time. i found peace in the endless arms of a homie just for a night & just for a night i was lost to death & every other ghost you sent after me. i know why you are here & you will do what you must but tell me
will you reach for
when i have
Bernard is a Bahamian immigrant living in New York City and is an MFA candidate at New York University. He's excited to convince you that fall is not that great of a season. He has work featured/upcoming in The Adroit Journal, Nashville Review, Winter Tangerine, The Rumpus and Best New Poets 2017, among others.