We pull off
to a road shack
to watch men walk
on the moon. We did
the same thing
for three two one
blast off, and now
we watch the same men
bounce in and out
of craters. I want
a Coke and a hamburger.
Because the men
are walking on the moon
which is now irrefutably
not green, not cheese,
not a shiny dime floating
in a cold blue,
the way I’d thought,
the road shack people don’t
notice we are a black
family not from there,
the way it mostly goes.
This talking through
static, bounces in space-
to cords is much
even than we are.
At the Beach
Looking at the photograph is somehow not
unbearable: My friends, two dead, one low
on T-cells, his white T-shirt an X-ray
screen for the virus, which I imagine
as a single, swimming paisley, a sardine
with serrated fins and a neon spine.
I’m on a train, thinking about my friends
and watching two women talk in sign language.
I feel the energy and heft their talk
generates, the weight of their words in the air
the same heft as your presence in this picture,
boys, the volume of late summer air at the beach.
Did you tea-dance that day? Write poems
in the sunlight? Vamp with strangers? There is
sun under your skin like the gold Sula
found beneath Ajax’s black. I calibrate
the weight of your beautiful bones, the weight
of your elbow, Melvin,
on Darrell’s brown shoulder.
Elizabeth Alexander (New York, 30 mei 1962)