Pit Stop in the Valley

by NATASHA OLADOKUN

for Charles Wright

Not even that, not even Nina singing why you wanna fly, Black- bird, you ain’t never gonna fly, soul fully alive in this bedroom’s smallness, sorgo in the freezing tongue of storms, hailing kingdom come—is enough. Already kingdom came and went, the stilled light breaking reckless in the snow, and even if I could stand in it, wind-whipped, obdurate and iron-clad, it could not account for this howling world we are born to, that we die in, that we cry in, that we sing in and are found in, and are bound in. All around us, like swans, last songs ascend. Open wide, swallow it whole; the transfigured earth settles, so white it hurts to look. All has been baptized in fury and ice, the Blue Ridge blank as wax paper. If all forms of landscape are autobiographical, I, one brown face anomalous against the rime, have walked into another man’s book.

NATASHA OLADOKUN’s poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Image, The Hollins Critic, Indie Film Minute, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Hollins University, and currently works at the Virginia Quarterly Review.