August 9, 2019

Marvin Artis

TWO LOVERS STANDING ON THE EAST RIVER PROMENADE, THE WHITE ONE CAREFULLY PICKING THINGS OUT OF THE UNCOMBED AFRO OF THE BLACK ONE

The clouds over them were simple, perfect and white
like those that second graders draw over rooftops.
A plane descended towards LaGuardia Airport,
so slowly it seemed suspended above their heads,
almost as if the passengers had asked the pilots to idle,
while they passed around binoculars to look at their two
fellow men planted below, one looking for something in the other.
The white one stood firmly behind the black one in the same
patch of earth while runners, walkers and parents with strollers
swerved to avoid them. They appeared to have no awareness
of the movement surrounding them, not even the crisp, fall breeze
leaving the river and blowing their shirts around like the flags
standing outside the United Nations building farther north.
The water next to the promenade flowed in its usual ambivalence,
going upriver one moment, downriver the next, sometimes whirlpooling
salty water from the Atlantic Ocean peppered with fresh water
from the Harlem River, a blue gray green mixture masquerading,
passing as a river. Minutes ticked by. Neither said a word to the other,
as the white one peered through bushy, ebony hair,
while the black one stood with his eyes closed.

from Rattle #64, Summer 2019

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Marvin Artis: “I think one of the things I’m most interested in, in poetry, is the opportunity to connect things that don’t appear to be connected. To bring my own disparate parts together and to also build that infrastructure internally, and then be able to apply that to my relationships with other people. The more connections I can find between disconnected things, the better my connections are with others.”

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