Part the tent-flaps just enough to peek through.
You are the bold fingers of light, blinding at first
and I am a dark eye opening, a sideways mouth
with loosened lips. In time, we could adjust
to the iris of each other.
Reason is wise to hold her tongue
at the meeting of strangers. I empty my pockets
to show you bus tickets, seashells,
a single marble. Your sleeve still covers
your left hand. I harden my stomach.
Halfway between the shore
and the nucleus of every terrain,
I imagine a border along which settlers
of the land and visitors
from the sea can stand as equals.
Come to me hungry with an empty knapsack
on some other sunrise and I may offer
whatever my camp can spare. But today
I must etch a line in the earth
and mimic the warning growls of bison.
Portrait at the Tate
One hundred, five and twenty years before
the instantaneous camera,
Joshua Reynolds offered his own
painting of A Young Black
as an exemplar of portraiture
for his students to copy.
So many renditions of
A Young Black in the manner
of Sir Joshua Reynolds now exist,
each with full lips
parted, the left nostril flared
slightly more than the right
and those eyes, those eyes,
that it’s impossible to identify who
painted which. The young black
who was the young black
of A Young Black, too, remains
anonymous. A servant
of Reynolds perhaps, or of
one of Reynold’s friends. Maybe
his name was Frank. In any case,
the real difficulty is not so much
in the angle of the head but taking pains
to get the eyes just. so.