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These coastal nights in candle-flickering dark
I ride you easy, bare-backed and bare-breasted,
your sex straight up inside me like a second
spine. After blue goblets of merlot and apple
cordial I spill on our equivocal skin,
your indulgent laughter rumbles like Robeson’s
basso as I joke and sing back-up to your vowels
of Ife and Igbo, Benin and Congo Square—
syllables that tumble us into the bedcover’s dunes
shifting through candle-flicker dark. I say I
ride you easy, straight up inside me is
my second spine. Sweet, so sweet, you murmur
and my moves groove deep, reddening the emphasis
of winter wine spilled on our skin, midnight’s
tinted goblets and Benin’s call and response.
I rock on your cock-horse down to Banbury
Cross, down to the consanguine root of my childhood’s
oldest rhyme, where reason’s bare bones falter
and Robeson intones with us in Old Man River’s
candle-hungry dark. Our shadows move, huge against
drawn blinds where midnight’s coastal dunes
sift through shifting window chinks, grain
by grain, moan by moan. My second spine
deep rhythm, Benin to Banbury, we rock
like Rockin’ Dopsie, my oldest cradle-song
down to your Delta roads: blue country
schooling us in sweat and contradictions
of skin pressed on skin on this peninsula
shifting in sand-smooth dark. Sweet, so sweet
you groan as we move deep, your hands
smoothing my breasts to pleasure and
I laugh and cry as your rumble under me
reddens its emphasis and your sperm-knot
splits, spilling into my hidden river course, dividing me
into myself, as if reason’s fever-trance
broke, so sweet, the dune-swells hold their breath
and I withhold my pleasure till your Rockin’ Dopsie
rocks on home. Then we stroke and
shudder in the blues’ slowing
momentum, wrapped in each other’s midnight
skin where we lean toward sleep
these candle-flickering nights in coastal dark.
Endecasyllabics: About the Women (Ruthie)
“She’s not out of touch with reality, she’s just not interested.”
—David Richmond, photographer of Ruth Grace Moulon (1934 – 2008)
I want to talk with Ruthie, discover
who is this woman, inside the Duck Lady
façade? The roller skates, thrift-shop wedding gown
and veil, the fuzzy ducklings that parade
behind her through the Quarters on Mardi Gras.
Rumors of burly, blue-uniformed police
watching over her, asleep on Jackson Square
park benches. I find her in a nameless bar
on Dauphine Street, plucking at her torn voile skirt
and runs in her pilled cotton stockings. She glares
when I ask to take her photo: “That’ll be
a dollar.” Her drawl is steely, her outstretched
fingers ending in carmine-painted claws. I
falter before her scowl, her desiccated
voice, her figure, perched on a broken-back chair,
tough as a folded bird. I hand over
the dollar, aim and focus—she sits up straight,
grin-grimaces for the flash. Then she nods, turns back
to her glass with its Jax Brewery logo.
My deeper questions? They never had a chance.
Excerpted from Masquerade. Copyright 2021 by Carolyne Wright. Used with permission of the publisher, Lost Horse Press. All rights reserved.
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