After Lightning, I Dream of Abrigette

Abrigette, evenings you are my head.
I think of you at night & then in sleep; bricks
of your house stacked neatly, your dogs & your cats,
& I wonder if you are one hundred now, but think,
Sometime, you must have walked out into it,
the bejackled sky, sky all dressed with lightning, out
into what was there. & did it sing your old husband’s name?
Or come to you in the voice of one of your brothers?
& did you answer back to it? Or did you
not even hear it at all, instead continue
to wash a kitchen window, white rag in hand,
as though trying to clean a great glass-eye
from which you hoped
to see more clearly, or, perhaps,
be seen more clearly? & was it the sky, in fact,
that mistook you for someone wanting relief-
that understood the signal wrong
& thought you to be ready, the rag in your hand to be
a small white flag waving? & so, out of obedience, came down
with all its ghosts & foxes, to take you
quick or slow. & did it wait there, on your front lawn,
as you had seen it do before with other neighbors?
Did it take a seat by the side house window? Or dance
on the tops of your cypresses? Did it spend days
up there? Or days touching its face to flowers on their plots,
learning their names? Or did it come quickly
& take you by your hand? & is it true? Like I have dreamed?
Did you walk out into it, the night, the way one walks
into the cold, cold ocean? Slowly first, then plunging-
head under, everything under.

Aracelis Girmay


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