Love Jones: That Romance
By Tara Betts
Every moment sounded like smoky back rooms
and corners in Wicker Park still got Black before
dark. Jazz was like a tongue on your neck, finger
tracing collarbone. Incense, bidis, and chew sticks
looked earthier between full lips as substantial
as unbroken ciphers or bulging notebooks full
of curled pages springing with rhyme (and other
acrobatics found in our mouths) while seeking
some elusive word to replace violet, the broken
skins of blueberries, the sweat never concealed
by cigarette smoke, unexpected names when
silver terrarium shrinks into microphone head.
Amplification blooms into Larenz Tate playing
Darius the poet in his hometown, and the story
soon lands on Nina, played by Nia Long (Nia’s
daddy is a poet in real life). They woo, fuck, fight,
separate, and she returns to the small stage
circled by spotlight. She is a photographer
fresh from New York City in a perfect white
shirt. She wears smoked cherry pout. Her poem
rings in the heights of the everglades, and Darius?
He is silent, like the rest of the audience until Nina
heads to the exit. She tosses her journal in the trash
before palming the door, and he follows, pleads
wait and she looks back like women always do.
Before the kiss, he insists love is (more) serious than
a muh… Nina is silent when their lips are clasped
again in a romance we waited for, now on television
on random nights. We sit through interruptions hawking
soap, chips, and jewelry to think that love could
render familiar and still be slick, lit umber nights.