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About this Poem 

“Is your heart yours and how do you recognize, inhabit, and expand it? Over years of listening to Johnny Cash, I heard a new question in ‘I Walk the Line’ and thought about his voice and lyrics in the way that a poet or poem will find you (again) at the darkest, most honest part of your life. I also wanted to bridge and invert the visual, psychological imagery of Cash’s identity as a ‘man in black’ for myself. I’ve discovered so much light, grief, and God in my skin.”
Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Disarming of Shadow, Arming of Light

I wish I were like Johnny Cash
& thought my heart was mine.

I’ve worn a black suit
my entire life. It suits the war
my eyes ignite.

My sins sit on my lap,
bald, blind, desperate
for the mercy of lost roads,
glottal white lines.

Only smoke will take me
far to nowhere—

a woman living
between
her own burning road

& a charmed God—

the unmarked sky
where a plague of blackbirds

fell across my back
like an unlit cross.
 

Copyright © 2015 by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Used with permission of the author.

Rachel Eliza Griffits

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Rachel Eliza Griffiths was born on December 6, 1978, in Washington, D.C. She received an MA in English literature from the University of Delaware and an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College.

by this poet

poem

I pick you up
& you are a child made of longing
clasped to my neck. Iridescent,
lovely, your inestimable tantrums,
I carry you back & forth
from the famine in your mind.

Your alphabet wraps itself
like a tourniquet
around my tongue.

Speak now, the static says

poem

Another time after she left
I saw a headless woman
hurrying after her like a jaguar.

She pried off her red mouth
like a scar. My father folded the window
so that it fit inside his silence,

pulled apart starlight
with his teeth. Then he ate the fruit
of his own wreckage

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