A Poem by Robin Coste Lewis

"What We Had"

April 23, 2019  By Robin Coste Lewis

What We Had

Too much love not enough
To eat gravel and blood fires
A wide street two cemeteries
Where we played Hide and Seek
The cracked earth dead palm trees
Houses uninhabitable long before
They were burned being hungry
And not knowing it wasn’t normal
How they hid the forbidden world from us
Making believe no better place no better
Plate no other language worthier than this
No one could have convinced me there were books
Somewhere living and breathing without us
Dinner parties museums legislature contracts
Oceans who never needed or missed us
The way we would grow to miss and need them
Fear a coin from another realm
Valuable somewhere else maybe
But completely useless here

The preceding is from the Freeman’s channel at Literary Hub, which features excerpts from the print editions of Freeman’s, along with supplementary writing from contributors past, present and future. The latest issue of Freeman’s, a special edition gathered around the theme of power, featuring work by Margaret Atwood, Elif Shafak, Eula Biss, Aleksandar Hemon and Aminatta Forna, among others, is available now.

Robin Coste Lewis
Robin Coste Lewis
Robin Coste Lewis, the winner of the National Book Award for Voyage of the Sable Venus, is the poet laureate of Los Angeles. She is writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California, as well as a Cave Canem fellow and a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. Lewis was born in Compton, California; her family is from New Orleans.

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