"Rosetta Dreams Eyes Open to the Moon"

by Susan Anderson

I was born in the rough peace of a California city. My parents fled from the fiery cross of Texas to this Pacific land.

My mother’s favorite saying was: Time will tell. My father used to nod, agreeing that here in Oakland, the Klan lies buried like bulbs underground waiting to shoot up.

 

This week the Moon has waned. Darkness grows. I watch the wrinkled surface of the lead-colored Bay from my drawing room window. Now that my parents are dead, the house and its solitude are my inheritance. The entries are bolted shut. Few venture here and gain admittance.

 

My visitor appears in his black frock coat at the border of my home. He stands in at my locked garden gate. His stubborn shoulders and thrusting neck bespeak impatience. I close my eyes. The beauty of his face appears against the sheen inside my eyelids. I whisper his name and think of those who hunt him.

 

He will bring news of the whites rampaging this summer, the mobs in twenty cities. Last week in Washington, D.C. he helped arm our people. Twice as many whites were killed as blacks. America is dangerous for us. We have few havens. Dubois in The Crisis declared that this country of ours is yet a shameful land.

 

On the hillside, fog entangles eucalyptus and pine, and circles my visitor’s head. He fought against Pancho Villa with Pershing. After the War, he denounced the expedition and trained in Harlem. The African Black Brotherhood has allowed him to return home. I’ve known him since he was a wavy-haired boy and I a fresh-bosomed girl in West Oakland.

 

The threat here is influenza, thousands already dead. When it is just the two of us in my bedroom, he will remove his mask. Inside will be drops of his breath condensed. The skin of his face will be moist as I drink from his mouth.

 

I’ve been told enough to be at risk, though he carries no weapons here beyond the dagger of his sex. As I wait, I touch my brown gauze bodice. He is motionless, hand atop the fence. Can he smell the night jasmine? Does he think of me?

 

Peonies devour the fence. Trumpet lilies sway, glowing in the twilight. I want this love to be as simple as my garden, but the world intrudes on its mysteries. Vigilant, with one hand, my man lifts the latch on the gate. For him, it opens.

"Rosetta Dreams Eyes Open to the Moon," digital photomontage by J Michael Walker, 2015

"Anita Lets Her Feelings Show," digital photomontage by J Michael Walker, 2014

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