Intent on a clutter of college ruled,
absorbed in ink and smudges of thought,
I never noticed her in the doorway,
hopeful in a hopeless red dress-
write this down, she said;
write this down so you'll listen,
so you'll hear what I got to say
the same way I hear you when you put in words
the flat of this dismal sky;
it makes me feel damp on my skin,
taste lonely at the back of my throat
and I know you think I don't know much
about words, or just how them words
make you happy when nothing else can,
but I understand well enough, I get it
when I read "nothing grows here but water"
so write this down, and listen:
I want to live out loud;
I want to be more than what I am,
I want to sit in one of them outside cafe's
sipping mint juleps like ladies do in Atlanta;
I want to wear my hair up in curls, silk on my back,
smell anything besides magnolia and tobacco and dirt-
I need to tell my daddy
that the best look at God is from hell,
not a pulpit and I need to let my momma see
what she closed her eyes to at night;
I need to learn how to cry and remember
that tears is just so much salty water.
I have to chip out what's been covered in stone.
I want to read on them pages someday
that maybe I was special; that you noticed
how I held you, your sap still on my hands,
while you twisted uneasy in sleep.
Let me see it put down that you thought I was pretty,
hair the color of honey off the comb, skin like butter.
Paint me in a poem that will find its way out of here-
She caught her breath with a hitch,
a sound so small that I bent to catch it.
Her fingers fluttered, familiar against her neck;
she turned, walked away without another word-
her talc lingered long after she'd gone.