she draws fat birds
in stokes tight as geography
their plump bodies
arch above bent twigs and flowers
in a splash of boneless color

remember the leaves and veins she says
Chinese painting captures the spirit
the character of space
the observer looks down
stresses only the foreground
the use of line gives substance
to the motion

these contours fall into simple patterns
like Tu Fu’s poems
easy she says watching my brush
tremble toward the paper
but it is difficult
these fats birds and simple bamboo stalks

they have no urban counterparts
I want to fill the space
with fat black babies
with the veined hands of wretched old men
and big mammas in flowered dresses
shying away from welfare lines

the slender figures of these thin twigs
should bend to the sweet pain
of old love songs played on
clear water and clean rocks
should ease the sullen jokes
of schools gone bad

while colors blend like Ashanti rhythms
played on Osebo’s drum
draw them many times she says
they grow from the mind without roots
so I bend over porcelain-white paper
remember to pull all lines toward the
center and always the dark to light…

Category: Celebration of Blackness,