Tara Betts

April 10, 2015 Tara Betts

The Courting

after Gerald Stern


In every dark jazz club, in each smoky corner
among empty glasses and rickety chairs and cabaret tables
I have never seen a man dressed
in a tailored suit
nor heard Coltrane’s “Love Supreme” how I might
in 2006 within the dimmed hollow
of Smoke Lounge, nor blushed as I did
then, my dress all snug, my hair just curled,
my eyes bright with nerves, his face lit
with awe across his cheeks, smiling the smile
of Puerto Rico, the tempo of Cuba part claves,
part guiro, the diaspora finally bridged,
the two of us smiling and watching, the two of us
wondering and listening, as if we were fusing,
as if we would always connect—in 2006—
in New York City, grimy crowded New York, home
of the Vanderbilts, some buried nearby
close to this Uptown flirting, in the Bronx.
Oh Jesus of colonizers, oh Jesus.

Tara Betts is the author of Arc & Hue and THE GREATEST: An Homage to Muhammad Ali. She is a a Cave Canem fellow; her writing has appeared in VillanellesGathering GroundA Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona PoetryDISMANTLEPower LinesCallaloo,Crab Orchard Review, and Ninth Letter, among others.