BRANCUSI’S TIME MACHINE
by Aracelis Girmay
Brancusi, what is it that you wanted here
flying into Harlem in your gold-chain suit?
Did you think you’d go unnoticed?
& is this your camouflage?
Did you hear we’d all be dragons here? Or trees?
Gold chain. Gold snake. Gold corn-row through the roof.
One woman points to the sky & says:
Another woman puts her hand over her eyes.
Henry’s ghost runs up from the belly of the station
& says: I knew, I knew!
Where have I heard this story before?
Is this the ship you come in now, to fill your bags
with Artifacts? Books & sidewalks of the straight-backed
glorious, the paintings & the ink & the sun outside.
Will you take them back with you
to 1930? & on them, sign your name?
Harlem, by Brancusi. Garvey, by Brancusi.
Or have you come, Brancusi, for a visit?
Innocent & wondering enough.
Because you heard the people here
were wonderful. & you love spring.
& you want your hair braided. Oh,
Ms. Zora Neale. & the Schomburg’s gonna
open. & you heard Bjork would be singing
at the Apollo. Did you just want to
come down, Brancusi, come down
& get swallowed up by the sound
of a woman singing over the rush & rain
of her shower? Did you just want to
come down, Brancusi, cross over,
into space, space, outer space,
& black & pitch & oyster
mouth above the pearls,
under your breath did you sing
space, space, outer space?
Tell me, did you think Harlem was that place?
(c) Aracelis Girmay, 2007
All Photographs (c) Dante Micheaux