Lisa Fraser


Apartheid is the vague sting of salivary activation
when I am told “they suffered.”


A great river. All the sad black faces watch it heave slowly by.


Blue music rose out of some field and landed, electrified,
in the round brass beak
of a pressure valve,


In chapter seven
a woman stares
at me in sepia from a photo laid flat.
(A father’s blond hand pressed into
a mother’s dark, racing heart
mixed a fine sepia for printing.)
She, with the word “slave” punched beneath her on slick paper,
remains brown
above black and white.


Margin not to pale children bent on fame:
steam and bloody cotton
are all it takes to get a great river
into your instrument.


I find that my morning grapefruit, too,
elicits a salivary ache not so different from the ache
one would get in one’s calves
during a midnight
river crossing.


Hound sounds
mean the paper boy is here.