All night I’ve listened to the voice of a dead singer
from Memphis, Tennessee, who jumped up my stairs with a carnation
over each ear, once, and showed me his frail entrance wound
trembling over his eye like a hive; who convinced me
the voice of Christ is only the tenor of every slave who forgot
to be your father, then said he’d watched his family
carry a stallion from their house, in summer, while it burned
through a Mississippi night, and would I listen more.
I have always wanted to climb inside his voice and paint a huntress
up there, like a tribe I must come from. I have always wanted to sleep
with the nails of Christ in my mouth and suck whatever word
he didn’t draw from them, then bury them with his blue hair
in a constant orchard; I have wanted to eat that fruit again.
But tonight I only want to crawl down there with you, brother,
into the water, because I have been listening to your voice and all
its yellow locusts sifting through the trees I planted by hand,
alone, in these fields. Because I was the one who took those blossoms
from your ears, and laid them out on the wooden table. Because I remember
how you placed the river like a whetstone in your throat, and fell,
and the water washed off the word you carried on your shoulder
and did not want.