Split This Rock Poem of the Week: Naomi Ayala

In Adams Morgan, Two Years of Neighborhood-Wide Reconstruction Come to a Halt for the Night


And now, where the moon
rose behind here,
three stories loom—
inexplicable to the eye.
Floodlights lift
the puddles in the alley
to sad perfection.
No other brightness
to make beautiful
the edges of the dark.
Progress comes—
mocking visitor, a snoop—
to awed spaces
where we hold up
our pots and pans,
brush sweat
from our brows, wipe hands
on threadbare dishrags,
scold and kiss our children.
We should be glad—
some people tell us—
life is precious, move on.
Others say poverty
is redemption: leave.
And waiting to wake
we stir all night. We pray.
Our father, god
of the cupboard and the ladle,
redeem us.

-Naomi Ayala

From This Side of Early (Curbstone Press 2008). Used by permission.

Naomi Ayala is the author of This Side of Early and Wild Animals on the Moon. She teaches at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD and the Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMASS-Boston and serves on the Board of Directors of DC Advocates for the Arts.

Ayala was a featured poet at the 2008 Split This Rock Poetry Festival and appeared on the panel “Women & War/Women & Peace: International Voices” and read as part of the Beltway Poetry Quarterly celebration at Split This Rock 2010.