Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

For A.

Sitting in the house, with everything on my mind.
Stumbling in my house, watching my lover go stone-blind.

Come back from that window. Please don't open that door!
I know where it leads. It leads to hell, and more
than your blinded eyes can see. Come back,
come back, and try to lean on me.
I'm here, I'm here, I've gone nowhere away:
if only you could see!

How is it we have travelled, you and me,
through happy days, and torment, and not guessed
that we could find ourselves so black, unblessed,
so far apart?
You are my heart:
I watched you sleep and watched you play.
I slapped your buttocks every day.
I used to laugh with you when you laughed
and stand, when you stood up, and, with you,
watched the land drop down beneath us,
green and brown and crooked,
as we rose up, up into a sky
which we alone had found
and where we were alone. Too much alone, perhaps.
Perhaps we were as wicked as people said,
turning to each other for the living bread!

And, now: I have taken your hope away, you say,
and you think of me, sometimes, as the most
monstrous of old men. No matter:
if I could only make you see
how you must live when you are far away from me.
If only I could see for you, if I could for you spell
the vast contours of hell!
If I could tell you how, on such a road,
where I walked once, I stumbled and fell and howled:
how you must walk the road, and not be driven
into the great wilderness, by some false dream of heaven!
I have been there, and I know. But I know, too,
that nothing I say now will get to you.

You have your journey now, and I have mine.
And all day and all night long
I have waited for a sign
which will not be given to us now.

love has no gifts to give
except the revelation that the soul can live:
on a coming day,
you will hear, from afar,
I, your lover, pray.
You will hear, then, the prayer that you cannot hear now,
and, when you hear that sobbing, boy, rejoice,
and know that love is the purpose of the human voice!

     Neuilly s/Seine
     July 23, 1970

Written by James Baldwin (1924-1987)


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge