Henri Rousseau, The Repast of the Lion (1907). Original from The MET Museum. 

How can I picture you, ghost from a colder diaspora,
farther from me than Carthage or Vishnevets?
How can I acknowledge your things of whiteness
mine? Born too late for never-setting empires,
the backwash of your blood-tide
lapped me in the atlas of the New Jerusalem
where in the secretary hand of monsters at the margins
cultivation was rendered wilderness
and the Devil was a black man with a book.
I descend more easily by Avernus
than I can follow you up that shining city’s hill,
shadowing your name that almost ran down to me.
We with wild geese and pogroms in our families
carry the homes we know we must always leave.
No one who brings an empire everywhere with him,
my Puritan haunting, gets out of it alive.

Sonya Taaffe
Sonya Taaffe reads dead languages and tells living stories. Her short fiction and poetry have been collected most recently in the Lambda-nominated Forget the Sleepless Shores (Lethe Press) and previously in Singing Innocence and Experience, Postcards from the Province of Hyphens, A Mayse-Bikhl, and Ghost Signs. She lives with one of her husbands and both of her cats in Somerville, Massachusetts, where she writes about film for Patreon and remains proud of naming a Kuiper belt object.