The Locusts Are Swarming
I passed through the wild market streets unharmed
until the West African woman
stopped me with her eyes and kept me with the color
of her dress, the color of the dropped sun.
Then she called to my lips, my torn insides:
“Let him in for the night, amie.
Now the locusts are swarming through Cote d’Ivoire,
flying through villages like paper birds.
The children are jumping through bright yellow wings
and the other world is stirring for love.”
She clicked her tongue and motioned to the table at her waist
full of small wooden men, wooden women.
“Quatre dollars. It’s your blolo bla, your other world lover.
He’s angry with you. Let him in.
Quatre dollars s’il vous plait. Let him in for the night
or the pain will never leave your stomach,
the seams of your house will continue to rip.”
She shoved a wooden man into the palm of my hand.
I touched the smooth of his jacaranda body,
his slender limbs and painted ocean eyes.
“He is yours, you know, petite fille. The man who eats
your food and sleeps in your bed is for earth.
But this one’s the one from before you were born.
He stomps through your mind, sans cesse
—because you are his.
The locusts are swarming and women come crying
but the Baule people know to take this man,
the one in your hand, and let him in.”
I touched the smooth of his jacaranda body and listened
to the woman from Cote d’Ivoire tell me
why the pit of my stomach bleeds, why the front step
stays loose, why the faucet still leaks,
why the shape of everything keeps falling flat:
All men and women have two lovers.
The one that isn’t here can never be left empty.
Not wanting things to rip further,
I gave her four dollars.
And you I let in.