Dede Wilson

Morning Of The Duel

Eliza Park, New Orleans, 1838

I unlace my shift, stand at the basin, breasts
cold against the porcelain bowl. My hands

are numb, my breath makes ghosts in the room.
I loosen my braids, lift a brush to my crown,

release the musk of my hair, its flame
and its weight warming my shoulders.

Dawn is slick with horses, acrid smoke,
the smelly canals. Even tall closed windows

cannot shut the proud world out. Now they are
counting, stepping away before they turn.