Immortal City, Immortal Heart

by Afaa M. Weaver

The hiss of air brakes on trucks slowing down
to turn into Key Highway, around the bend
under the cannon that kept Baltimore in the Union,
cinnamon and paprika sifting across the black harbor
from pots that made spice in the McCormick’s plant,
sandwiches from Jack’s Corned Beef in brown bags
beside slices of fruit cake in January, the holiday
a turn in the wheel with new fittings on packing units
to make way for spring and Arabers with broken ponies.

The mornings are old preachers who moonlight
as bookies and sing about how the gold is in the hand
of God, and God sings about the gold in the wrapping
of the sun setting over West Side high-rise projects
to rise in China where Buddha is a chance, while
sons of bookie preachers study a dead Bruce Lee,
beat their hands on bean bags in basements to make
palms of iron and break unbreakable barriers to rip
apart myths that hold the sacred arks of blackness.

Baltimore like a woman with a crusted oyster knife
made in Ireland, O City of the Great Good Lord,
come, bless us in our soft place so we will not die.

Published on July 1, 2020