When We Could Walk on Water

Tamara Al-Qaisi-Coleman

— an ode to Jericho Brown’s Crossing—


The blue is deep


Baba’s mouth curved

Whistling songs his grandfather played


“You know I used to

Walk on water”

His eyes alight—


tales of the blues

people who stride

                On ocean waves              


Easy flowing

“Blackness isn’t skin deep”

He said cradling the red-faced baby

Born from unblessed ties


His hands

Grasp for surface

Face blue in want of air


The bubbles that rise speak their siren song

“You know I used to

Walk on water”


He says as his

Face disappears into

The black


Gun powder



Wars against racial poverty


“It’s my only chance” he whispers to his mother

Who signs his soul away

For a life far from shambled houses


The fate that led him to those who came before


Who spend the afterlife


When they could walk on water




Tamara Al-Qaisi-Coleman is a bi-racial Muslim writer, historian, poet, and artist. Her first book of poetry The Raven, The Bayou, & The Willow is forthcoming through FlowerSong Press Spring 2022. She is a Brooklyn Poets Fellow, a Rad(ical) Poetry Fellow, and a poet for the Houston Grand Opera & MFAH’s event “The Art of Intimacy.” Her work can be found in (Art) WORDPEACE and Mixed Magazine, (Fiction) Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, (Poetry) Boundless 2021: The Anthology of the Rio Grande River Valley International Poetry Festival, and others.