Not the palm, not the pear tree
Switch, not the broomstick,
Nor the closet extension
Cord, not his braided belt, but God,
Bless the back of my daddy’s hand
Which, holding nothing tightly
Against me and not wrapped
In leather, eliminated the air
Between itself and my cheek.
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To believe in God is to love
What none can see. Let a lover go,
Let him walk out with the good
Spoons or die
Without a signature, and so much
Remains for scrubbing, for a polish
Cleaner than devotion. Tonight,
God is one spot, and you,
You must be one blind nun. You
Wipe, you rub, but love won’t move.
Raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, Jericho Brown won the 2009 American Book Award for his debut collection Please (New Issues, 2008). He is also the author of The New Testament (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), which received the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award.