"Their colour is a diabolic die."
What they say they are
And what they actually do
Is what Phillis overhears.
It’s like she isn’t there.
It’s like she’s a ghost, at arm’s length, hearing
The living curse out the dead—
Which, she’s been led to believe
No decent person does in a church.
How they say they love her
And how they look at her
Is what Phillis observes;
Like she’s the hole in the pocket
After the money rolls out.
God loves everybody—even the sinner,
Even a mangy hound can rely
On a scrap of meat, scraped off the plate
What they testify
And what they whisper in earshot
Is as dark as her skin, whistled from opposite sides
Of a mouth.
Is she the bible’s fine print?
Copyright © 2020 by Cornelius Eady. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 15, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.