By Regie O’Hare Gibson
For Jordan: A Poem About Beginnings
That March day in Massachusetts. . .
When the second-rate poet went shopping,
He never thought he would buy that black shirt,
The one embroidered with that crazy
Eastern motif, the one he knew was not his style,
The one he only wore once, and now hangs
In the closet next to something else hanging
In the closet. His main thought was
“How would this look on stage this evening.”
He was vain that way. . . .
Likewise, when she wore the cleavage clinging
Pink halter-top, and pair of ultra-tight black pants:
The outﬁt that screams “I want men to respect me for my mind!”
Yes, the one that pilfers his speech even now—
She was only dressing for a comfortable night out
With a girlfriend, a girlfriend who ﬂaked on her
At the last minute leaving her to go out alone.
She had never been to a poetry reading before,
And wasn’t used to going out alone. She almost didn’t go.
But, she did anyhow. She surprises that way.
They didn’t expect to meet—much less fall into one another
And walk the thin bridge being built between them.
He was a man with a rather pronounced liking for the ladies
Though surprisingly shy about women. (Especially that night.)
She—while not known for starting conversations
With second-rate poets was a little more forward than usual,
Especially that night. Somehow (and this is apocryphal, as stories
Do not corroborate), they wound up at IHOP.
And over a cup of coffee and a rooty tooty fresh and fruity,
He thought. . .maybe. . . ? She thought. . .hmm—maybe. . . ?
As for you? Well. . .you were not yet you.
Well. . .that is, you were you. . .potentially,
but you were not this ever parasitic tsunami
Of new discovery fueled by laughter and lactation,
Leaving broken drinking glasses and ruined CDs in your wake.
No, but you were somewhere. . .not quite there:
a small curved line faint and forming at the end
of some egg named “future.”
Then, they loved. And it was gooood! (That’s all I can tell you now.)
But, they loved again. . . .And again. . . .And during the August
Of one those agains the part of you which had been swimming
Inside him, dolphined toward the part of you
Buoyed in her—and you began growing into an island
And when the growing was done,
You were lifted from inside the soft dark of her,
Into light, into screaming, into breath.
After that, he took you into an empty room—
And while no one could see the two of you, he held you
Above his head, looked upward at the ceiling and imagined
The ﬂuorescent lights a sea of stars stretched endlessly
Above a land smelling of salt water and village song.
And as must have happened in the lands your ancestors
Came from he held you close and trembling to his chest,
Told you your name. Thanked his father for your safe passage—
Then asked for strength and guidance from whatever hand authors fate.
Regie O’Hare Gibson’s poetry has been published widely in anthologies and magazines, and has been presented in sound and electronic media. His ﬁrst collection of poems, Storms Beneath the Skin (EM Press, 2001), received the Golden Pen Award.