When they finished burying me, what was left of me
sent up a demand like a hand blooming in the fresh dirt:
When I’m back, I want a body like a slash of lightning.
If they heard me, I couldn’t hear their answers.
But silence has never stopped me from praying.
Alive, how many nights did I spend knelt between
the knees of gods and men begging for rain, rent,
and reasons to remain? A body like the sky seeking
justice. A body like light reaching right down into the field
where you thought you could hide from me.
They’ve taken their bald rose stems and black umbrellas
home now. They’ve cooked for one another, sung hymns
as if they didn’t prefer jazz. I’m just a memory now.
But history has never stopped me from praying.
Copyright © 2018 by Saeed Jones. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 28, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.