Red Clay Blues
I call on my baby, say save some honey for me.
‘Cause everyday and I need some honey,
—–and you best save some for me.
There’s a sweetness I been missin’ in my coffee and my tea.
My heart won’t wear her red dress, ‘cept the clay beneath your feet.
Said you’d treat me like a princess, took those shoes right off my feet.
Then you ran a tub of water, and you fried me up some meat.
The world is parched and pantin’, it ain’t water that I lack.
They be drillin’ holes around me, it ain’t rivers that I lack.
But I’m longin’ for your lovin’, get that weight up off my back.
The man that I been lovin’ gotta a wife of his own.
Said, the man that I been lovin’ got a wife of his own.
There ain’t nothing I can do, ‘cept pick up this telephone.
Will you carry my load, honey, can I give my cares to you?
Said you’d carry my load, baby, and I gave my cares to you.
But your wife won’t let you take ‘em and our courtin’ time is through.
I don’t need a remnant
of you: a handkerchief
or nightshirt to dress myself
in your going. You are gone.
A pregnant woman walks
in spring, I picture slick ice
and mishap. A plastic bag
is a black cat crossing me.
You fall, slanted like rain.
Somewhere there is “favor” hidden
in a thicket. I want only
to sun in that nearby glade.
Somewhere a clean black dress revolves—
unclaimed. Let violins be horns again.
Because Samson was red bird in a tree full
of blackbirds, because one night she cried and he wiped
her tears with his hair, because she wanted his power
to come from her, because he lay down with her again
again— even after she warned him, even after
the dream, she knew love only swam
in the nude because after he took off every
garment he was still fully clothed, that spring
trees threw rice over her head,
littered the ground with pale blossoms— see
it’s complicated, because she always wanted a prince,
a boy, because after she lost the baby he rocked her
as she moaned, kicked, as she punched, as she bled, because he
lied to her about so much, because she wanted to be his superstition,
his voodoo, his wellspring, because she thought she
could keep the walls from crumbling, that she
would be the last prayer on his tongue.
Ama Codjoe is an educator, writer, and dance artist with roots in Memphis and Accra. She received her B.A. in English from Brown University and was a Presidential Fellow at Ohio State University where she received her M.F.A. in Dance Performance. She is an emerging poet and Cave Canem fellow. Her work has been published in the Tidal Basin Review and her work is forthcoming in Cave Canem Anthology XII: Poems 2008-2009(Willow Books); she has been a feature poet at The Southern Writers Reading Series and Cave Canem Fellow readings at Association for Writing and Writing Programs (AWP) in Washington, D.C., Adelphi University, McNally Books, and “Weaving In and Out” in Manhattan. In August 2011, she was chosen as one of Black Bottom’s Tuesday Poets. Ama currently resides in Brooklyn.