Nevertheless: An Ecstatic Ode

Praise to the father holding his sleeping daughter on the 52nd Street trolley
            To the daughter sleeping through the pothole thrum

Praise to the diabetic with shorn feet & sugarcane blood
            To the shooting nerve through her left hip & lower spine
            To those flying gods on their routes

Praise to the red-headed Rasta & his ganja-laced T-shirt
            To the Vietnam vet at Cass Corridor holding his sign
            To the sign which reads: “Not homeless Just strugglin”

Praise to the barbers calming the fatherless in their chairs
            To the mothers trying not to overhear this soothing
            To soothing

Praise to razed skylines & ruins
            To whatever replaces the horizon
            To the lost toddler who refused to speak to strangers
            To the strangers who would not let him be lost

Praise to sisters in love with whoever won’t love them
            To others in love with whoever won’t bother

Praise to the lovers who left lessons
                        the lovers who left scars
           To the memory of topography
                         raised surface, smooth to touch
           To id’s fragile shards & ego’s fringed edge

Praise to boys who make beeswax fingernails
            To little girls who wear fatigues & eye black
Praise to the overlooked
                   the overlooking

Praise to Miss Toto, Bambi Banks, Pearl Harbour
            To bombs that never landed
            To satellites that couldn’t be coaxed to Earth
            To the dreams in bodies that won’t hold a lie

Praise to beauty that doesn’t suffer rules
            To dollar store sheik & sleek vintage tins
            To Type 2 wave & Type 4 curl
            To wanting to be
            To being

Praise to the hard-won win against Chronos
            To the stone wrapped in swaddling
                         the neurotic eaglet safe in hiding
                         the sirens fostering seafamilies
                         the eye uncrossed, uncrowed

Praise to love’s resurrection
                  incising shame’s jugular
            To the seven ecstatic hallelujahs
            To the left hand counting 5 of them
            To le petit mort & headboard bang

Praise to boot houses
                         children running over frayed laces

Praise to the old kitchen, half-gutted,
                         its springtime gnats & winter flies
                         its mice hugging sweet corners

Praise to that which endures
            To old doors, layers of paint
                         years of storm beating solid oak
            To the gable roof that is a ceiling,
                         the coffered ceiling that is also a floor

Praise to what shoulders weight
            To brackets & load-bearing walls
                         beams & spindly skeletons
                         sacred geometry & tangents
            To levees & pregnant summers
                         the bullet-ridden body
                         coilspring & wheel

Praise to open wombs & caskets
                         any mother who must decide either
            To the crown & seed lowering
                         into the thorny or fertile soil

Praise to the ground unfastening
            To every earthworm’s bristle
                         & every seraph’s six wings
                         entwined in songwaltz of welcome
            To the body relenting solely to dust
                         the spirit ascending straightway to stars

Praise to all who rejoice in becoming
            To all who transform in return

Copyright © 2019 by Airea D. Matthews. Originally published in Michigan Quarterly Review (Summer, 2019). Used with the permission of the poet.