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Elephants 1

by Chris Abani

There was this small college in the South where I read

and three white boys in the audience

in KKK outfits, stiff like lilies for a funeral.

The walk up to them was long with fear and shame and rage.

But I took the hood off one and wore it back to the stage

and through my reading to a deafening applause.

But I mostly remember how hot it was under the fabric

and how that boy’s smell filled me,

and how wet my tears were.

And Bean in the warm bed breathing softly and me cold

on the floor and writing this poem in an old notebook.

And the arrow slit of skylight lets in only a red night.

And her Gennady Aygi translations flutter by the bed

like a flock of simple white birds.

The more we promise to never leave our lovers,

the faster the horizon arrives. My lust is simpler still:

that Bean return to me every night with her gentle warmth.

from SanctificumFind it in the library

Copyright 2010 Chris Abani
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Chris Abani Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.