I recognize the bruised persimmon of your lips
on others around me. And if I never
see again the sweaty ribs when the body bends,
there’s you, picking from can’t-see to can’t-see.
And your fingers on the nape of my neck
when I’m about to wake. So when I call
my own girl Blue, it’s after you,
it’s for your one pale eye, shadowed
and blind as far back as I go. Lucille,
black French of your voodoo mother with airs,
that high yellow you cursed is almost my color
in your skinny lap—your hand on my belly
to feel the flicker of the tiny tail
of another girl you said would grow there.
Black butterfly, the shoulder’s twitching bone,
you crouch in the roadside ditch
for morning clay, that last remedy the earth tries
to satisfy the ambiguous craving of the poor.
What you called a misery in the heart
wakes you. I almost always have a fever
and you put the fire in the glass
and the glass on my back. You are humming
to that purge and the circle eats the flame.
I am tasting your milk again, Annie Blue.
I’m tasting your spit and your black neck
like a clove in my mouth. And the good days
of sweet tea, hot water bread
gold in the pan, the carp and their liquid eyes.
The body is another kind of earth.
I don’t forget what you fed me.