I could string him back up the tree, if you’d like. Return his skin’s meaning to an easy distance, coal dust, blaze And Willie Brown him. You Love how the blood muddies the original, The way it makes a stage of my speechifying, this leeching Capital from his dying, Like an activist. I know I’m
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For Nicole and John
She drew a name full of winning flesh,
Victory, I mean, so that any Yes she has to say
We might say is a Yes achieved happily all her own—
And he drew a name large as any god,
Large as a wall in the center of the night, and as calm,
God in the most gracious, the tenderest way.
To be, like them, in a tenderness now,
Chill as April; to feel ourselves, like themselves,
In a communion of that sprung blood; and to trust
That in the dark, in even the wild, forbidding dark
Which by fact must come, is no threat,
No sudden evidence to break and unheat—
Then we’re complete. Flesh falls away. Gods do.
I will make a man out of you, says one
To the other. I will make a woman. Isn’t that
What to say I choose you means, means I let go
The name I held only for myself to step sharply into yours,
Into that bareness each for the other makes,
Outside the old conceptions, the old laws,
No she, no he—but together you become a single self
That spans the sense of the imagination,
Wiser than the oldest language, which is love,
More patient than the deepest song.
Rickey Laurentiis is the author of Boy with Thorn (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize and the Levis Reading Prize. He is the inaugural fellow in creative writing at the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics, and he lives in Pittsburgh.