Par Avion: Air Mail

I have no understanding
of your African world, with electricity
three hours a day and a taxicab
that comes to take you to Cotonou
twice a week,
should you wish to go.

I have nothing to tie me to Ouidah
but you,
whose hardest times before now
include summer nights
when we slept in bras and panties
and thin sheets
because a broken air conditioner
left our bodies
hot for the boys next door.

In Benin you don’t look for love,
as you say you would be
lowering standards,
and your main concern has become
how many months of the year
you can get fruits and vegetables,
not how many nights of the month
you can relish a lover’s hot touch.

Years from now I will still touch times
eating Cheerios on the front porch,
sitting on pool furniture that was left
beside the dumpster on Ebenezer Avenue,
talking about nothing but ourselves
and our small lives.

Now you have no front porch or Cheerios,
but you have the village Pehunco,
with nine thousand people and a king.
You have no shower
but a town near the ocean.
And I sit on my pool furniture,
stare at the boys next door,
and wonder how long it will take
before one of them brings me a beer.

This poem was written in the late 90s.



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