Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Bones in the Soil

These empty landscapes; the entanglement
of trees, the river valley, the music of light
through mist; the silence—it is why I can’t
make art; why I can’t sit still in the dark
cave of a forest and think of anything
but spirits; well, not even that but the bodies
of black people, so ordinary, so squalid,
so easily broken; the limbs, the ugliness
and indignity of nakedness, the disposable;
the dead end of abuse; they died here,
their flesh becoming the offense of a stench,
and then, soon, the earth took them.

And today a white man can walk his family’s acres,
with easel and canvas and brush and think: Silence,
the communion of trees, the confluence of rivers,
the chapel of light, the synod of forgetfulness.

I wish I could write myself out of such distractions.

Perhaps that is what Zen offers; you clear
your head, let oxygen enter your bones, and soon
you will see the amber of fall as only that:
leaves turning. But me, I think bones,
I think bones restless in the dark soil.  

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