The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2019

All Issues
SEPT 2019 Issue

Best Ship Braving Waves

“You can only earn—by practice and careful contemplations—the right to express it and you have to learn how to accept it.”
Toni Morrison, 1931 - 2019

“There’s a name for the animal / love makes of us—named, I think, / like rain, for the sound it makes.”
Nicole Sealey

“The light of my life is going out tonight without a flicker of regret.”
David Berman, 1967 - 2019

Sandra, Carolyn, Toni, David.
Dead, and so easily.

Is it as easy to love as to die? 
Both shock with their rolling appearances. 

You might say, “But I have so m u c h yet to do. How can I be already dead?” 
You might say, “But I have so m u c h yet to be. How am I already Yours?” 

When we were four I loved you and knew it. 
You, so quiet and self-assured. 

You, mirror that flattered solitude. 
You, gem who showed me my own beauty. 

Four-hundred thirty-two moons later, when I loved you it was for the peace of you. 
The grace you wrought. 

When I loved you, it was just yesterday, and you were another quiet man. 
You were another. 

You were a sylph I found I sometimes ached to be beside. 
You were a sliver of god who flickered in the light of brief time together. 

You were a twin 
longed for. 

You were a carrot seducing me toward courage. 
You were a being sent toward me to silence parts of the self I might like to let go of. 

Lately so many of us seem to be slipping off to  w h e r e  of  E l s e -   . 
The space of —                              . 

So many of us have been re-routing our course. 
So many of us letting go all this knowing for an Infinity of Ignorance lush with other Promises. 

I am so jealous of their courage, and yet I  d o  n o t  want what they want!
Yes we each want Freedom, but I want it here among the earthly mansions of what I know. 

I want to stay in the World!
I want the magic of life to  s h a k e  me while I am in line at the bank. 

I   k n o w    t h e  magic  i s  h e r e ;   I  h a v e   f e l t   i t  many   t i m e s
                                          tú sabes como es la onda

I want the peace of complete freedom to sneak up on me
in the soft kindness of obliterative questions.

When I loved you it was easy.
When I loved you it was now.

When I loved you it was because you moved so smoothly through. 
When I loved you the distance made you Muse. 

When I loved you I was older. 
When I loved you I was grateful. 

When I loved you it was because I serenaded oceans. 
When I loved you it was a g e s ago. 

When I loved you it was from the ache of missing you from the start. 
I named you: When you speak I love you most. 

When You Speak I Love You Most,
you shine for me like cloud and breath like the thing that gathers to give life and then disperses. 

When I loved you it was as a child. 
When I loved you it was a delicacy. 

When I loved you my whole body tried to listen 
when you spoke. 

What else could it be than love 
if my heart pulsed more with every uttered clause 

so that in the space between your paragraphs, 
the muscle — resting — revealed itself?

How funny to try to claim
some corruption. 

The truth is it seems 
the truest thing.

I love you. 
A n d   s o   w h a t.

We don’t need to say love
to spend time and think together.

When I loved you student trusted teacher and
turned one-hundred and eighty degrees before the light was written

for with every sentence, as we approach The Vista™,
you reach out your hand to mine and a Highwire of We slips off instead to verdant shaded glen.

Loving you is knowing you and this love makes me want to risk.
Your talk makes me wonder if for us there is even any need of kissing. 

What more could be gained from precious finite lips
if the heart swells so at infinite unkissable mind?

I love you and by that I mean when you are near to me in friendship
I question the infamous function of its zoning — efficacy askew. 

What I mean to say is: I must confess how deeply well I feel on Plato’s bridge with you. 
What I mean to say is: These many hours of lightning will thrive with or without their storm.

You, twin lost to me three decades hence.
You, twin who I first felt in absence.

You, blackghostconnection playing at the borders of Self.
Come to me with searching stomach, with heraldry and honor.

What is this stuff?
What is this crypt?

I am charged into life by the memory you are here.                                                          I love you.

I am of a resting spirit and the dare of you lies high upon the cable with palms open calling out.
In waking life runs companion of departing train for the certain lofting sprint of it.

Returns your most electronic letter
with an answer that tested waterbearer sweet Beloved prior —


(Chödron, 1996)

In honor of your easy glory
I say to you —

When you are close to me my cells are sparkling,
my heart on tip-toes in all directions,

my jokes tumble forth into the trampoline of your smiles,
my index finger brats against the rest of us, touches you somewhere — legal, wholesome, public.

But it is my spirit that shines brightest at your attention.
And, too, it is my mind — all bounding puppybunny — when you are thinking with me.

It is my yearning that the idea of you enters.
And even with all this Chorus, the thing I ask of you is no change

within this realm or any other we may visit,
only that we say some singing goes on —

only that we let the Singing k n o w   we hear it.


Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves

Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves (New Yorker, b. 1980) is a Pushcart-nominated poet concerned with postcolonial ethnobotany, the limits of language, and archive as medium. Greaves has most recently been published in the collections Letters to the Future: Black Women / Radical Writing (Kore Press, 2018), and Creature/Verdure (Pinsapo Journal : Issue 2, 2018), as well as in her chapbook Close Reading As Forestry (Belladonna*, 2017). She will be an artist-in-residence with The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on Captiva Island, Florida in early 2020 and serves as Site Director of Wendy's Subway in Bushwick, Brooklyn.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2019

All Issues