by Melanie Henderson

Everything was brown,
tree bark skin muddied edges
of rivers Rappahannock & Potomac,
irises, tight curls & z patterns
boxed photographs.

Some was black
but not much,
checkered or paisley pants,
unsagged & tailored.
Some was black,
but not enough to seep in.

It may have been fire
in its prime light debris
on the black of a Union soldier’s blood.
Whenever or however it was,
it’s as specific as a stain
or a wish.


Melanie Henderson, 4th generation native of Washington, DC, graduated from Howard University with a dual degree in Spanish and English and from Trinity University with a Masters of Business Administration and a focus in Organizational Development. She earned an MFA from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. A visual and literary artist and an alum of Voices Summer Writing Workshops (VONA), her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such publications as Amistad, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Black Arts Quarterly, Commonthought, Drumvoices Revue, Fingernails across the Chalkboard: Poetry and Prose on HIV/AIDS from the Black Diaspora, Huong’s Peace Mural Exhibition in Washington, DC (2008-2009), Jubilat, Mourning Katrina: a Poetic Response to Tragedy, Reverie: Midwest African American Literature, Southern Women’s Review, Torch: poetry, prose and short stories by African American Women, Tuesday; An Art Project, Warpland Journal, The Washington Informer and X Magazine (London, UK). She is the Managing Editor of the Tidal Basin Review and is a winner of the 2009 Larry Neal Writers’ Award (DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities).