Let's Go Down

by Desiree Santana


i. It is known that words  	come up from such soil       	crack like husks    	brand like cast iron corn bread       	 tastes like    	centuries removed from magic 	yet it is true       	stale states take up serpents for salvation here 	moaning is mistaken for Sunday’s choir    	singing O’ Sisters    	let’s go down  down to the river to pray   ii. It is imagined that he		was a seventh son of a seventh son  a healer	        blowing smoke into thrush throats making hot toddies at night		sweating off sickness we would play blind man’s bluff in the shadow of  his castle now 	over to the open casket we go        	an angel howls O’ Mourners	let’s go down                                 	down to the river to pray  iii. It is remembered that father		walked from a burning house waddled through the snow	they say if you’re born on a mountain one leg 	is shorter than the other	to account for the slope already unsteady on		feet from birth	his 	 suboxone knees	couldn’t hold his weight 	they moaned O’ Fathers	let’s go down 			down to the river to pray
iv.  It is said that I	could roll a cigarette before I could write suckled coffee from the bottle		could curse you up  and down 	but other words didn’t come easy like pulling teeth	no	like a silver cap over the rotting root		still this mouth redeeming O’ Sinners	let’s go down  			down to the river to pray   v. I say to you that mythologies are all we have		take Samuel  learned his letters from his wife	on a puncheon floor some white sand scrubbed and charcoal	take Tempie died from a snakebite picking apples		there’s a picture of her	 eyes hard   		husband with a fiddle up ready to play  O’ Brothers 	let’s go down                                 	down to the river to pray   vi. It is true: I   	have not been honest in a way history recognizes	such stories     like lightning bugs  	press their light against the cool sides of the dark an audience of children       	catching, singing O’ Mothers    	lets go down                                 	down to the river to pray


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