Tenea D. Johnson’s poems are uniquely observant; they captivate and surprise from choreographing butterflies turned to dust, to Kentucky woods and suburbia. Johnson’s intricate language invites the reader to connect with the images, music, and tastes of a woman vulnerably exposed. Both urban and natural, Starting Friction resounds with a hope for a nation full of complexity and conflict.
The Water Has Pushed Through
by Tenea D. Johnson
A narrow stream cuts through the earth
turned to stone
by the weight of trees and time.
I found this stretch of stream with
the perfect gurgle and sat next to it all afternoon.
The way the light exposed the
shadows and bright ripples of water’s motion
enchanted me and I proposed
to stay here with it and the bright moss
and roots hanging over this edge of earth.
If my loves would come and visit
I could stay until my hair grew gray,
I would introduce them with warmth,
“Daddy, this is the white oak whose roots grow through the moss
straight down the side of the hill.
Kelly, there are the ants
that crawl over my body, looking for something
they never seem to find.
And, Derrick, this is the
delicate black and green dragonfly
that reminds me to miss you.”
Instead, I sit until the light has left
my pocket of water
& head off to
find another church,
leaving the ants to
investigate my impression.
After time well spent in alphabet cities—NYC, ATL, and DC—Tenea D. Johnson lives on the Gulf of Mexico where she writes speculative fiction and makes music. Her work has appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Whispers in the Night, Arise, and Tangle XY. She is also the proud mother of a bouncing baby label, counterpoise records. You can reach her at email@example.com or visit her website at teneadjohnson.com