We who take the beaten track,
Trying to appease
Hearts near breaking with their lack,
We need elegies.
–– Countee Cullen, “Threnody for a Brown Girl”
Because I want to see your faces as more
Than a genre of pain and smoldering dreams,
I’ll hold my hand to your pulses and speak
Your resonances to the stars
That shined on all of us.
History calls us to slow burning embers
And the placid riots against the body,
The absolute zero of fact, so here it is:
We have darkened the native pathways
Of broken bodies and human life
And we have soaked our feet in dead gray coals
And become old and forgetful
With memory like a two lane road––repaved into disbelief.
You crave a fact:
Well, beneath my feet lay the unknown
Ashes of those who breathed smoke to protect white air.
We bottled our histories with silence
And bounced them in the boughs of young poplar trees
To whisper for the dead disposed.
Yes, it’s true, we need elegies
For us bodies still walking the masquerade,
The ones with bones collecting dust
On our mantles. Yes, it’s true too,
I cannot forget you.
Issue 10, 2018, pg. 20