Months into the plague now ………………… Sheltering-in-Place #7

Siblings, Dar al Akhmar, Cairo.                          ccraig


Dad Poem (Ultrasound #2)…Joshua Bennett with a line from Gwendolyn Brooks


Months into the plague now,
I am disallowed
entry even into the waiting
room with Mom, escorted outside
instead by men armed
with guns & bottles
of hand sanitizer, their entire
countenance its own American
metaphor. So the first time
I see you in full force,
I am pacing maniacally
up & down the block outside,
Facetiming the radiologist
& your mother too,
her arm angled like a cellist’s
to help me see.
We are dazzled by the sight
of each bone in your feet,
the pulsing black archipelago
of your heart, your fists in front
of your face like mine when I
was only just born, ten times as big
as you are now. Your great-grandmother
calls me Tyson the moment she sees
this pose. Prefigures a boy
built for conflict, her barbarous
and metal little man. She leaves
the world only months after we learn
you are entering into it. And her mind
the year before that. In the dementia’s final
days, she envisions herself as a girl
of seventeen, running through fields
of strawberries, unfettered as a king
-fisher. I watch your stance and imagine
her laughter echoing back across the ages,
you, her youngest descendant born into
freedom, our littlest burden-lifter, world
-beater, avant-garde percussionist
swinging darkness into song.






I picked this poem for the lines “escorted outside/instead by men armed/with guns and bottles/ of hand sanitizer, their entire/ countenance their own American/ metaphor. “ And because I liked the rest of it of course.

Those faces, that ‘American metaphor’, and the guns that accompany them are something that shock me every time I come back into the United States.  I can’t think of any other place I have seen so many faces looking out from behind those gates.  In Egypt, in Mexico where in my memory every important building had a soldier with a rifle, maybe sandbags, the soldiers looked like kids, scared and wanting you to know it.  Perhaps I saw that same look in Brazil under the military, a pretty tame military as those kinds of regimes go and on its way out.  But the police were famously  brutal; they had that same barricaded look.  White and foreign and relatively safe as I was, for two years I refused to ask them so much as directions on the street.  It was my tiny act of solidarity with their victims in the favelas.

This poem came courtesy of A-Poem-A-Day from  I couldn’t find out much about Joshua Bennett. He is the Mellon Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Dartmouth and  has a wonderful post on his twitter account(

My grandparents met in a strawberry field. They were teenagers, sharecroppers,
Black human beings living under the weight of unthinkable duress. Black freedom
is in the futures they dreamt, and the abundant lives they pulled from the air.