The Shine on the Road’s Blacktop When it Rains
By Erin Wilson
It’s 2016. South, Trump’s just been elected.
Here, thank God, after Harper (no angel)
a fairly new liberal government.
Everywhere, hotter than average temperatures.
It’s early evening but black as night, November.
My teenage daughter and I are on the couch
watching, together, Nina Simone
deliver her 1976 performance, I Wish I Knew
How it Feels to be Free. A master craft,
how she mocks the historical white audience
tinkling you-fool lightly
all over the classics encoded in the piano,
plucking the irony back
and then wringing its neck
in her evening gown,
her black forehead glistening,
after all, a girl is gonna goddamned eat,
even the bird,
even the sacred one she finally sets flying.
No parent can say and have heard anything.
Ms. Simone’s evening gown is shining.
No parent can explain just where we’ve been.
Watch her body, I want to say. See how she
thrashes in pure measure and wry splendour.
When she moves, even a little,
she is moving against something.
But it’s me my daughter’s watching out of the corner of her eye.
Me. And I cry against the wings. I cry with longing
and with shame.
Erin Wilson’s poems have appeared or will appear in New Madrid, Watershed Review, Peacock Journal and Rust + Moth, among others. She lives in a small town in northern Ontario.