The latest in a biweekly poetry series curated by Hanif Abdurraqib
Back when it was warm, and I had enough freedom
To get lost with, I took
The bus to its unfamiliar corners
Where all the lanes peeled away, leaving
Bare stretches of land, flat colors
Dotted with silhouettes that were nowhere
In particular; fading in and out
Of the landscape until I came to a house, a woman
Who pulled back her roof to let the fireflies in.
And I, just as glowing one moment and hidden
The next, let the wind carry me in
Past static TV, through flurries of beating fists,
And there was fighting, yeah,
But also our hands thrown up
In joy, done in unison
Like streetlights when the background was filled in
With black ink, and there was darkness
But there was shading too, in carpets
Of loose sketchbooks, on our artist's skin
Along with our uncertain futures.
My time there blurred boundaries, I learned how
The devils crept up from hell
To mutter lies on live broadcast,
How to silence them with the press of a button
When the brown-eyed future needed to be fed,
The world a solved puzzle in his hands.
But when I was gone all I had to offer
Anyone who asked
Was that it was a house dropped from the sky,
Only landing out of some forgotten loyalty to the earth,
Full of the deep rooted thing that says No need
To run, to fly no more.
And so I was brought to the bus stop,
Leaving one house for another when I saw myself
Begin to fade away, my skin into blistered wallpaper
My eyes into dust-coated lightbulbs, my feet
Fleeing until my shoes sat
With their backs against the sidewalk.
And sometimes kids who know me by my name
Hurl it back at me as they drive past,
And when I flinch at its sound I remember
Where all the talk about collecting fireflies came from.
The radiant feel of trading words
For flickering lights,
Gently parting the horizon's clasped hands to speak.