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 PleiadesImageThe Hollins CriticIndie Film Minute, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Hollins University, and currently works at the Virginia Quarterly Review.