Ashley M. Jones
Aubade with Lalah Hathaway and Rachelle Ferrell
I’m coming back / just to give you my love /there’s a part of me that lives in you
-“I’m Coming Back,” Lalah Hathaway and Rachelle Ferrell
—but what the song doesn’t say is that there’s a part of you that lives in me—there’s a piece of you still flowering, still sucking on the soil in my heart—there, something still grows, however weakly—there, I imagine that you and I still amble toward love or something like it—somewhere, we’re waking up together like the aubades that seem so untrue—there, we still live in the walls of this song, where coming back is beautiful and not regressive, where coming back means a natural return and not a backpedal—somewhere is not here—here is not love—love is not you—what the song doesn’t say is that part of me that lives in you can still breathe its way back to me—it can, carrying your scent, your sweet sweet—it can come back to me and show me what seedlings were there—there is a flower, still, even if the soil was not rich enough to grow—there is a flower even within the seed—
What Lives in the If in Al Green’s “Simply Beautiful”
in the room of my love
there is a whole
there is a bass guitar that plays all by itself.
there is fire in the hearth, crackling
and there is a brown hue all over—that’s my skin.
my skin and my love are inseparable.
in the room of my love
there is a growl and a giggle,
there is a never-ending meal—
cornbread and collard greens and hamhocks and neckbones and sweet potato pie and mac and cheese (the good kind not the kind at church or the kind that one aunt swears is good or the kind in a blue box) and potatosalad/barbecueribs/coleslaw/bakedbeans/cornonthecob/poundcake all on the same plate and grape Kool Aid and spring water and broccoli&cheese casserole and fried chicken and smothered pork chops and sausage&gravy and pancakes and butter and—
in the room of my love there is room, maybe for you,
but only if Al Green is playing and only if your hand is shaped, love,
like a key—
Ashley M. Jones is a poet, educator, and activist living in Birmingham, Alabama. She is the author of Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press, 2017) and dark / / thing (Pleiades Press, 2019). She is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival and she teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. Find her on Twitter @ashberry813 and on Facebook @PoetAshleyMJones.