Letter to My Friend Robert

This morning I wanted to write so I changed into my outside clothes
unlocked the door & walked onto my block where I thought of my father
whose favorite hobby is walking up & down & around the streets
of Harlem against my understanding until today when I find myself
seeking some kind of fire in the air & now I’m a couple of blocks
& beats of birdsong away from my Mississippi doorstep passing by
a fenced-in white dog who barks & growls at me like she believes
I’ve taken something or she is displeased with unshuttered windows
absent of human bodies peering through to see about her & oh
how green it is today that I am almost in disbelief at how
nature changes in a matter of hours or the two weeks it’s been
since I returned to the mouth of this trail on a chilly overcast
afternoon I was met with downed trees strewn about as if
all that mattered was their continued proximity to home & this
comforted me despite my deepest love being them standing alive
& today I’m convinced some god came by & dropped off a new
forest & new eyes for those who beg for relief as sudden as this vision
I have of an imaginary father addicted to walking because it lets him
time travel to other worlds almost like watching a film & some days
he doesn’t know what he’ll get & maybe there’s magic in not knowing
that one day you could arrive at the heart of a lake & there are guitars
& drums & keyboards floating in the breeze playing tunes that feel
familiar & unfamiliar & you can dance & pray to the edge of a fallen
leaf turn yourself inside out & oh Robert this trail is a whisperer &
a mirror I wish you could see & please do tell if you have a spot in Brooklyn
like this trail that implores me to take what I need & leave an offering
if I have one to give & journey back to myself to arrive at a blank page
& call it green call it mockingbird call it train call it break call it bloom

Nadia Alexis is a poet and photographer born to Haitian immigrants in Harlem, New York City. Her poetry appears in Mud Season Review, MQR: Mixtape, Indiana Review, the Texas Review, and others. A 2020 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest semifinalist and recipient of the 2019 honorable mention poetry prize for the Hurston/Wright College Writers Award, she has received fellowships from the Watering Hole and Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. She’s currently a creative writing PhD student at the University of Mississippi.