From Elizabeth Alexander's "Lottery Tickets," grieving for her husband.
"When we first became lovers, we entered a three-day, three-night vortex. Night One I slept Senghor's "deep Negro sleep" for what seemed like the first time ever, lifelong insomniac no more. Night Two I burned with high fever and dreamed of my grandmother and a cherry tree, the only fruit she ever ate to excess. The next morning, Ficre gave me small sips of cold blackcurrant juice and rosehip tea to make me well. Night Three my fever broke and so did my menses, more blood than I had ever let in all my life, all over the bed, a trail across the room, the bathroom floor, and in the tub. He cleaned it up; I did not feel abashed. Then he had to go to Washington... The last thing he put in his bag was my first book of poems..."
"....Death sits in the comfortable chair in the corner of my new bedroom, smoking a cigarette. It is a he, sinuous and sleek, wearing a felt-brimmed hat. He is there when I wake in the middle of the night, sitting quietly, his smoke a visible curl in the New York lights that come in between the venetian-blind slats.
At first, I am startled to see him. He sits so near, is so at home. But he doesn't move toward me, he simple cohabits. And so, eventually, I return to sleep. He isn't going anywhere, but he isn't going to take me, either. In the morning the chair is empty."
"....I dream we are moving, my family of four: Lizzy, Ficre, Solomon and Simon. It is light and easy... Now it is just the two of us walking a long, gently curved road, holding hands. At a fork in the road, Ficre lets me hand go and waves me on. You have to keep walking, Lizzy, he says. I know it is the only truth, so I walk.
I look back. I look back. I can still see him, smiling and waving me on.
..I walk. I can always see him. His size does not change as I move forward: he is five feet nine and a half, exactly right. I can still feel the feel of my hand in his hand as I walk.
I wake and the room is flooded with pale-yellow light."
This is a wild soul-book