Linette Marie Allen
I once thought sex could solve
anything, gloves or no gloves,
rings or no rings. But that night
in Circle—black stars about the
fishy street, taxi lights, hint of jazz
hidden within the meat—my love
raised the equator by a quantum
mile, Adenta-style; your smile, here
with me yet aching for another, now
kneading a ballsy bleeding ice, wanton
the whole night through. It’s crazy.
For a minute, I wanted you.
When I finally figured out
you’d eaten yourself to death
from a love of white sugar, I sighed &
remembered you among the cool plantain
trees, porchside in a plastic sunchair. Your Sam
-sung sung the words: Sam
Cooke, Marvin Gaye, Blackstreet—
other classics. I laughed at the sky
blue; fretted your lack of vision
for a plot of land this big; exhaled &
knew you’d executed nothing well
but my Black American bones in your big. white. house.
On a back road from Ga
to Ashanti, you placed your hand
on my knee as if to absorb every orb
of quake in the unpaved road, each bump
a kick to the stomach, to the teeth. I dreamt
of arriving in one piece, of the tasty town
rice we’d eaten the evening before. You & your
family were very good to me—so good, indeed,
I’ll never forget how we straddled the village grass,
ducking fast a van or two, sweet peck on the cheek
afterwards, never using our left hand. You later said
of the man set afire in a circle—a fabulous Firestone
about his waist, that he was unlike you and me, that
he must have stolen. something.
Linette Marie Allen, winner of the 2021 Kay Murphy Prize for Poetry, holds an MFA degree in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore. A Turner Fellow, she has published work in Pleiades, Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. When not writing, she is sketching in charcoal: mushrooms, mice under moonlight, the mountains. Find her on Twitter @thepagereader.