I saw through the evening
a purple light.
The light held a sound.
I kept squinting at it trying to hear its octaves,
but all I heard were birds and so
I tried my wings, straightened
my back the way one does when attempting at good posture
and did a little shimmy
to loosen them, but they wouldn’t budge.
I could feel the constant pressure
between my shoulder blades.
It was painful
to hear the birds so full of flight and song,
but as I stood there
I thought about my mother’s hunger
all those years ago
in college eating the goat’s liver pulled straight
out of the animal’s still warm body
when none of the other students would touch it,
not even the men with their pride, and her
streaking the town parade at sixteen.
She must have appeared
to the bystanders
like a gazelle or some other blinding
creature. She called this morning to say
she had a feeling about me, a premonition
though she didn’t use that word.
I want many things
and sometimes it’s hard to hold
all this desire in one body.
If I had another body
that could store my desire
in the center of itself,
a body that looked like me, but didn’t
have the organs, muscles, and bones
taking up all the space, perhaps
my body, that is not me, would play
a series of songs
made up solely of the sounds of my future desire.
A mixtape of sorts,
but without titles or narrative arch.
The sound that would stand out the most
would be a rustling of leaves
like the rustle squirrels make playing at the base of trees,
but not exactly.
There would be more depth to it.
Rustling water. Yes. Dry and wet, then
a chiming somewhere in the distance, not like bell chimes.
More like a soft horn,
but also full of silence.
A horn chime full of silence.
And listening to this
mixtape of my desire that is to come,
I would think, yes!
This is a true thing.
And my body that is not me would turn purple,
a blinding purple.
Jamaica Baldwin’s poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Prairie Schooner, Guernica, World Literature Today, and Hunger Mountain among others. Her first book, Bone Language, will be published by YesYes Books in 2023. She is a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and winner of RHINO Poetry Editor’s Prize. Her work has been supported by Hedgebrook and the Jack Straw Writers Program. Jamaica is currently pursuing her PhD in English at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.