Light in the Beams, Comings, and Carlings

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Light in the Beams, Comings, and Carlings

I slept sound in my paint clothes last night, tired
and fresh from renovating

our daughter’s room—sea-foam green, her perfect,
radiant choice. Now the room

tosses morning light clear as Caribbean waves
into the hall, caught

as you rise the deck of stairs. She is a lover
of light, color, movement,

smells—even before words, she held new foods
to her nose to tell

how they would play on her palate, what foreign
flavors to expect.

Some ancestor of hers from Senegambia, the Bight
of Benin, or

Congo-Angola did much the same in the dark hold
of a ship—catching

whiffs of boiled oats or horse beans, yams
or rice, the lucky bit

of dried turtle or fish. He or she wished
not to be held, hoped

to see the waves’ last chain break, pined to lie
down with ancestors

at home, resting safe in the deep, true colors
of their own skin. What

scant, bright clothes girded them, I don’t
know. But their muscles,

dermis, hair, and nails still grow, infinitely
hued under the same sun,

and my patchwork family lays out its palette
each night in the beams,

stanchions, comings, and carlings—fore and aft—
of our beds.

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