You Cannot Run from Love Nene Leakes, Nene Leakes
On the day Cynthia finally got married,
there was a tremor under the Earth
for the spirits were unhappy with her
union. Her groom, penniless, powerless
could not fight them off, or pay them
to go away. He was shunned by her friends,
her own mother hid the marriage license
behind her back, as if keeping it away
made it disappear, made it untrue, made it
run away. There was no more running from love,
not for Cynthia, as she plopped on
her gunmetal dress—a bow fluttering her face
like the bobbing fan of a hooker in church,
the skirt like an exploding flower, an orchid
succumbing to a genetic disease so it sprouted
larger and larger growing up and out
until everything was subsumed. That is how
she walked down the aisle, on mutant petals
among primordial titans. That rumble
from the earth was the dinosaurs rising
again. Their bones hardened, eternalized
by the ground. That is what the crushing weight
of love will do to you, Cynthia. You will be calcified,
intractable, set up in a museum
as an example, your creaking will be advice
for the ages. Just look at your guests,
examples themselves. Nene has no bones left,
her husband distant, a puddle
of apology. Her sons wasted and withdrawn,
her friend Kim one weave toss away
from being an enemy. Kim doesn't mind.
She has three new boobs, two on her chest
and one on her arm. She is in love with a brawler.
A large man doesn't mind that she brings
her own wine, not letting anyone (even Jesus)
make it for her. She put poor Kandi to work and now
she won't pay her. Kim never pays,
Kandi always works, her heart a burning ember
doused by her ambition but striving for fuel,
for some good wood to make it burn again to warm
those Kandi-coated nights she talks about
so much. Sheree is acting, pretending
she has a man, but all she has are delusions,
confusions about talent, about direction.
What she really has is a man child who is also
a woman, writhing to a new tune in an old club.
At his house the other day, she was steady
calling out his name—Ms. Lawrence!
That's all Sheree has, while Phaedra, goddess
of the light stands with her sun god Apollo.
No one worships her, they laugh at her garish
face painting, her fingernails each a different color.
What a fickle idea of beauty, this Phaedra,
but she is the only one who knows the warmth
of a man against her skin, like the spring sun
on her back as she basks on the lawn.
She cannot hear the echos far beneath the grass,
the deep earth-bound rumble below,
those ancient bones creaking, trying to return
to gnaw her happiness with their hungry teeth.
That is where Cynthia saunters now, amid the teeth,
hoping she will make it to the altar, to the end, the perilous road
to happiness littered with lost bones—a path
Nene knows not to tread.