Letter to Che

— Melba Joyce Boyd

--In 1492, Columbus uncovered America and captured Cuba.

--In 1959, America recovered herself and freed Cuba.

you receive
these letters
on a curl
of smoke
rising from
your cigar.
it is the
earliest moment
of morning,
when light
is a quiet pink
stretched across
the reflection between
the Detroit River
and the Canadian clouds.

i write you
because i have
few words of
only faith
and an ongoing
devotion for
a world
we keep
in the deepest
focus of
our dreams.

when you peer
through these words
i pray they
will not dissuade
your belief in us Che,
for it is not
the retreat
or the disparity
of our numbers
that concerns me,
but rather,
the madness
that passes for
militancy in these
lost years.
blackness used
to be a declaration
of defiance,
of self defense,
Africa in America
is a desire
for respectability
a dance with republican
governors on
inaugural ballroom floors--
overtures that muffle
a numbness
more frightening
than the burgeoning
fascism and the
inaction accompanying
the craving for money
and the quest
for acceptance.

identity is a
departure from this land,
a retrenchment of
our indigenous ancestry,
a narrowness that inhibits
memory breathing
in the Americas,
thought molded without
clay or stone.
and in these
empty air pockets
our children are
born like filters
where innocence
has no value
on the future,
where everything
is a corporation
or a government
and they police
our poetry
and jail
our imaginations
banished to the
middle of the corn fields
to mourn
the death of a time,
while the reaper
ravages those still
wandering the cities.

we could not
shout loud enough
to discompose them,
to disconcert their
ears sewn shut,
or their eyes
crusted closed.
they did not want
to find the lamps
aligning history
or the difficult path
leading us
to the disturbance.

maybe, this is
an end point,
where we ascend
with the decline
of butterflies,
where we disembody
after a respite
in the cocoon.

ATC 60, January-February 1996

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