Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
Two souls collide in a moment perfected by grace,
by a super power some of us only know as God.
In such untethered intrepid strides, they collide
leaving no room for chance, no space for mistakes.
Consider for a moment, this moment: the parents
of their parents and then their ancestors all linked,
all impeccably placed and timed. Of course,
this union specified before you or I could even see,
could even breathe… Soul and soul collide
and so the result can only be love: a blessing
more ancient than the dinosaur, older than the world,
shattering dimensions and science – a blessing
traversing the heavens, falling up like prayers, like feathers.
Close your eyes and witness how angels fly all around us.
Was it Tina or Peaches, one of my mother’s
vindictive personalities, who set the house
on fire with her brother still in it? When
I went to visit him in the Burned Victims Unit,
the doctors had just finished ventilating his lungs.
The hours hung long around his muscular-melted frame
like a bandage. Medical devices worked electric magic
to keep him alive. The past five nights, he’d spent
locked in an air chamber. Finally out of danger,
God was a reflection in the room – in the mirrors,
the windows, anything that let light in. The day
the gauze and layers of cotton were removed,
he was unrecognizable cooked meat.
His mother said he was such a beautiful man,
had such nice feet. The ten years after the blaze,
Lucifer took the shape of a drink he could not
put down. Now, uncle is the 40-year-old living definition
of a burnt blessing staggering in new skin, only
a trace of physical heat is left. Epidermal theft.
Crazy mother, you lifted the man’s clothes right off
his back. Scorched shirt singed while on the rack;
ignite the black leather coat. Some nights he wakes
in the hot rooms of his body still filled with smoke.
I am trapped on a desert of raw gunshot wounds
and a dead child dragging his shattered black
face off the edge of my sleep
blood from his punctured cheeks and shoulders
is the only liquid for miles…
For weeks we spoke
of the desert lights in Marfa
until finally they spoke back,
so we ran into their voices,
shaping them into bodies
that danced and prayed
and cried much like our own.
Wild as orphaned children
pissed at our dead parents
for having not loved us better,
we ran to the desert
crafting spells that screamed
to our losses and our dreams,
screamed to our ancestors,
their bones buried in secret.
Chanting Audre Lorde poems
at the top of our lungs
until our throats hurt
and our hearts swelled,
off Route 67 we became
desert twins, sisters
of the dust, dusk bathing us
in her sweat and her night.
Placed Between Loss and Living
for my brother
I suppose, if I’ve learned anything,
it’s all been tethered to loss. My
16 year old self, lowering
my mother’s body down
into that black earth, and now,
exactly 16 years later,
I’m back at this same place,
same broken body, same face.
But this time it’s not my mother,
it’s her son, and he is just as
fragile as he is strong. His
22 year old self: long and muscular,
dark and bruised, punished
and weathered. I lie him down,
like an offering to God. I say,
Lord, I am still here. I will obey.