Summit Beach, 1921

Summit Beach, 1921

The Negro beach jumped to the twitch

of an oil drum tattoo and a mandolin,

sweaters flying off the finest brown shoulders

this side of the world.

She sat by the fire, shawl moored

by a single fake cameo. She was cold,

thank you, she did not care to dance -

the scar on her knee winking

with the evening chill.

Papa had said don't be so fast,

you're all you've got. So she refused

to cut the wing, though she let the boys

bring her sassafras tea and drank it down

neat as a dropped hankie.

Her knee had itched in the cast

till she grew mean from bravery.

She could wait, she was gold.

When the right man smiled it would be

music skittering up her calf

like a chuckle. She could feel

the breeze in her ears like water,

like the air as a child when

she climbed Papa's shed and stepped off

the tin roof into blue,

with her parasol and invisible wings.

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