Dream, Deferred


I wanted to live in a house
with a brick chimney and lace
curtains. I wanted bookshelves so
that when I finished knowing
everything, I could hold Shakespeare,
Bishop & Pound in my hands and
remember. I wanted to be beautiful,
to have freckled children
with mushroom-capped toes.
I wanted to sip tea from gold-lipped
china and wear red dresses,
to speak in silk, sing in color,
to dream beneath apple lanterns
and hold the hand of someone

warm. I wanted to ignore the caves
of my mind where I fall, sometimes,
into raw and restless sleep, where I
imagine things that do not happen and
certainly never should, where the number
of scratches on a cinnamon tree is more
frightful than words ending in “—cide,”
where there is nothing to drink but
saltwater and nothing to feel but hair
on my skin rising in white surrender. If

I drink the water I become an ocean in
my sweeping loneliness and destroy
old brick houses and the grey-initialed
towels inside.  I swallow bookshelves

whole to find the vital words,
for with a thirst like this,
only these can satisfy.