Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Tattooed Poets Project, Day 11: Malaika King Albrecht

Today's poem is from Malaika King Albrecht:

We Can't Step into the Same River Twice

My daughter’s worried that the Live Oaks in City Park

can’t breathe underwater,

and the ducks that bit her small hands full of bread,

“Who will feed them?”

She imagines the Aquarium fish swimming away

quick as the silver flashes

of our pond’s minnows, only freer. The elephants, large as memory,

will wade out

like ships from the zoo, rescuing smaller animals.

But a poem’s

not a life line, and the poet, not a boat.

These places burning,

flooding at the same time; these buildings where I’ve said

to my daughter,

“This is where you were born, and your father and his father.

Your great grandparents

were married at St. Louis Cathedral.

Grandma Cherry

used to say the gardenias in New Orleans bloomed so sweetly

the bees flew

drunkenly into her kitchen windows all afternoon.

And here,

here’s where your father and I met. Because this is there,

we are here.”

But we aren’t here anymore. Nobody predicts when it will stop,

and no one

when anything will begin again. My friend’s daughter

kneels, thanks God

for her house that has a tree on it.

She’ll start

kindergarten elsewhere in borrowed plaid uniforms.

On TV the city’s

sounds are hundreds of dogs calling for someone across this filthy

slow moving water.

A man and a pregnant woman paddle an air mattress with brooms

to anyplace else. “The city

is a bowl.” An anchor says again, “The city is a bowl” until I too

am too full.

Malaika had originally submitted this poem (click link to read), but I had some trouble with the formatting, so "We Can't Step into the Same River Twice" was a nice replacement.

Malaika is the co-editor of Redheaded Stepchild, an online magazine that only accepts poems that have been rejected elsewhere. For submissions guidelines, please visit here.

Thanks to Malaika for participating in The Tattooed Poets Porject. Please visit Tattoosday to see one of her tattoos!

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