when I got to the hospital late,
found mother and sister and nephew
in the waiting room outside the room
where he lay, still on a gurney, still in his supper-
time clothes, pajama top and trousers, belt,
feet bare the veins always so sick so dark.
I said so long but it wasn’t long
before I took a call from the ghouls,
the agency that harvested marrow.
I said, His legs are a mess, he’s crippled
from arthritis and gout, phlebitis! there’s nothing
you can do with these legs, but the voice kept going,
Just a few more questions, and I finally donated
the legs of my father, the gristle and tallow,
to someone who could use them anew.
The night before, I phoned and listened
to his insistence that he would not last for long.
I smiled and thought him small,
a little old lady, and when I stood by the pallet
I recalled your limbs like the first day I held you
and in so many ways you said Behold, you must try
to turn these legs into words, thigh
and calf, swell, patella, instep, hip,
and you shall fail, you must fail,
but keep trying, Oh, keep going.
Musings of Black Beyond the Mason-Dixon
The rise and fall of longer days bring
him home to Okefenokee, a manse
of copperhead and alligator. He dreams
against the wall of the service station,
his twin bitch mongrels drowsy beneath his seat,
and flies of diasporas desultory and mean.
Would you wish to wake him, this minister
of minstrels and febrile women who dance
upon the moonscapes of Georgian swamp?
One dog explodes, all jaws, eager to chew
to bits the lash of insubordination.
Her sister lunges at a motorist,
and brings our minister to black awareness,
arousal face-to-face with fury,
as he imprecates against her breeds
with lust and vigor, and now the swat at flies
and spittle in the thick sunlight
blind us, wear us down to stains.
The dogs are cowed and circle back to nest
with nose to anus. The minister is parked again