Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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New Orleans Love Poem

As my tongue runs
down your spine in bed,
outside my parents’ house
sea levels are rising,
the city filling, flooding,
predicted to disappear
in a hundred years. Outside,
the sky is glazed with light,
soap white. The Mississippi
shimmers. So much beauty.
So how wrong is it
to stay in this room?
To hold each other,
to keep our bodies
safe and alone together?
This house—pink stucco
latticed with mold,
water bubbles in the streets
from storm drains. Asphalt cracks.
And on our screens
bad news unfurls—
War. Fire. Drought.
In my childhood room, you mouth me open.
I close my hands
over your shoulders
then remember driving
to pick up our daughters
while a story about “ecological grief”
played on NPR,
the summer after my mother died.
Outside: magnolia tree lashed with rain.
Tongue. Mouth. Hair.
How wrong is it now to take solace
in the ordinary?
We slide out of our clothes.
A hundred years from now
when the world churns on
without us, the bridge drowns,
braceleted with light.
And here we are, in another
winter of wrong
temperatures. I slip on
my mother’s coat, flash
its red silk lining, invisible skin.
How I wish I could fill its pockets
not with smoke or flood water.  

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