Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

Waiting for Sweet Betty

The sweetest waiting is waiting for Sweet Betty.
Pretty but messy, they say. Bird's-eye view
sees a blanket of shimmering pink and white
with green pods in sharp brightness.

Down beneath in the flower's cool shade,
in scattered shadows so dark, I wait
in uneasy restfulness,
waiting through sun and snow.
There's much to wait for.
I wait for plum rock to turn a darker purple.
I wait for the unmistakable black in white people to show.
I wait for black people to catch windflowers.
The sweetest thing, though, is waiting for Sweet Betty.

Waiting is what I do.
I waited nine months to be born.
I meant to say something else.
In sleep I wait to wake.
I wait for the right moment.
I wait for the birds to finish with their nest and fussing.
I wait for the right book with the right cover.
I wait for the grass to take deep root.
I wait to see the bushes reach their fullness.
I wait for the grocer to fill my sack.

I wait in the hallway against the wall.
I wait for my students to finish the exam.
I wait for my students to start talking.
I wait for payday and I wait for the lottery.
I wait at the lake for the boat.
I wait offstage to have my say.
I wait at the zoo for the ram to stand up.

I wait in waiting rooms, rest homes, recovery rooms.
I wait patiently as a patient in ward after ward.
I wait for the witch doctor to tell me something - anything.
I wait like a mechanic watching oil drain into a pan.

I wait for the axis to shift and the system to set.
I wait for the matrix to absorb the math of itself.
I wait for the big crunch to meet the big bang.
I wait like an astronaut strapped in a plastic seat.
I wait a light-year for light to travel through chaos.

I wait in Georgia sad on a base and in Illinois with a dime.
I wait in New York with a subway token and a briefcase.
Now we're recounting personal history.
I wait in fatigues in line in Texas, waiting and waiting.
I wait in the airport in Ghana and Liberia.
I wait in France for my identity papers.

I wait in the train station in Germany and in Holland.
I wait in Italy hoping time will stop for a rest.
I wait in Colorado and California without skis.
I await a Nebraska driving test and I fail.
I wait in the air and on the high seas, waiting calmly.
Who can tell how long I wait?

I wait for Skunk Bush to stop smelling.
I wait for Wandering Jenny to stop climbing the house,
to stop flying around and around the clouds
trying to kiss the upside-down boy. I wait for her
to move in another direction, to rest on a rock.

I wait for the sweetest waiting of all -
I wait for Sweet Betty and she won't bloom till next year,
but she will bloom next year.

Written by Clarence Major


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge