By Abdul Ali
She starts running. I call cheater as she
gains on me, wobbling uncontrollably.
That bloody fruit in my chest sags low.
I want to tell her. My palm sweats through
a manilla envelope holding court papers;
I blow an invisible donut hole.
My chest is a flat worn-out mattress. Her eyes,
A blurry river— promises to cry for me when I’m gone
But I remind her I ain’t going nowhere!
Time loses seconds; I make a silly face to break the gravity.
I pick her up and we’re flying. Her arms stretch across the sky
With crayola lines of fleshy pinks and browns.
Her body grows small, reversing time as she runs down the hall,
A little rocket, shooting towards light where karate, jump rope,
The sound of her feet beating the swollen ground,
Her learning ancient colored girl chants
Let’s get the rhythm of the hot dog
The air thins, my thoughts lift me to outer space,
I don’t worry
I mouth something to the gods
And I don’t think for a second that we won’t survive this.
ABDUL ALI is the author of Trouble Sleeping (2015), winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize selected by poet Fanny Howe. His poetry, essays, and interviews have appeared in Gargoyle, A Gathering of the Tribes, National Public Radio, The Washington Post magazine, New Contrast (South Africa), Poets Lore, on the websites of the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Foundation, and in the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems about Washington DC (2009), among other publications. He has received grants, awards, and fellowships from the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities, American University, College Language Association, and the Mt. Vernon Poetry Festival at George Washington University. He has taught writing at Towson University, Goucher College, and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Johns Hopkins University.
From Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry. Edited by Joanne V. Gabbin and Lauren K. Alleyne; foreword by Rita Dove. Copyright © 2020 by TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press. Published 2020. All rights reserved. “I Don’t Think for a Second That We Won’t Survive This” previously appeared in A Gathering the Tribes magazine. Reprinted by permission of the author.
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