once the dream begins :: yusef komunyakaa

I wish the bell saved you.
“Float like a butterfly
& sting like a bee.”

Too bad you didn’t
learn to disappear
before a left jab.

Fighting your way our of a clench,
you counter-punched & bicycled
but it was already too late—

gray weather had started
shoving the sun into a corner.
“He didn’t mess up my face.”

But he was an iron hammer
against stone, as you
bobbed & weaved through hooks.

Now we strain to hear you.
Once the dream begins
to erase itself, can the

dissolve be stopped?
No more card tricks
for the TV cameras,

Ali. Please come back to us
sharp-tongued & quick-footed,
spinning out of the blurred

dance. Whoever said men
hit harder when women
are around, is right.

Word for word,
we beat the love
out of each other.