Below as Above

after the harmattan has emptied his last
gasp & wheeze, & we have shaken loose his dust

from our bodies & found shelter
from  the Sahel’s certain heat,

when the water returns & the river is high,
this bit of sun bittered earth becomes a stage, a show

for every sweet thing we have held
back in the swelter,

our hands thank the sky, a simple wave is still a worthy praise,
our feet thank the dust & the shallows

one, for the friction that helps shed the old,
the other, for the waters that soothe new skin,

our thighs thank the soil, the unseen
nourishment for the long season without,

our hips thank the moon,
for the pull on the tides;

the orbit of gratitude, music over our heads
our mothers’ mother’s song, a chant pulled

down from the heavens, or a blessing drawn
up out of the soil’s new bounty.


From Blood/Sound (Central Square Press, 2019). Copyright © 2019 by Fred L. Joiner. Used with the permission of the author.