Cursive spine winding
to the whims of its own lyric.
Fugitive blooms, unbound erotic
teach me how to survive.
I imagine it improvising some country blues
with fingertips unsheathed and raw
from reaching wishward on a loop.
Post cuffed to vertebra braces without consent,
braces intent on asphyxiation at the root.
Twine knotted beneath each petiole
forbids the leaf to jump,
forbids all directions but straight
& efficient up.
So what to do with desire then?
What to do with want?
Pointless to veer it with constraints
until its song and your own are the same
save for a dip in octave/pitch.
Senseless to train it with lashes,
whips singing between air & switch —
a whistling/whispering eruption
parting the flesh of the stem like a river
oozing at an unrushed pace.
O collective epidermal memory.
O bloom, you Fibonacci knowledge
such drowsy, sedimentary undress.
This poem is composed using some phrases pulled from Beauford Delaney’s drafted letter to James Baldwin, which I uncovered within Delaney’s collection, archived at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Though the draft is dated only a few years after Delaney started to show signs of Alzheimer's disease and severe mental deterioration, it exists for me as a window into the intimacies of their relationship. “See me” is a poetic attempt to, as Saidiya Hartman says, explore the limits of the archive to imagine what could have been.