For August Wilson No one quarrels here, no one has learned the yell of discontent—instead, here in Sumter we learn to grow silent, build a stone of resolve, learn to nod, learn to close in the flame of shame and anger in our hearts, learn to petrify it so, and the more we quiet our ire, the heavier the stone; this alchemy of concrete in the vein, the sludge of affront, until even that will calcify and the heart, at last, will stop, unassailable, unmovable, adamant. Find me a man who will stand on a blasted hill and shout, find me a woman who will break into shouts, who will let loose a river of lament, find the howl of the spirit, teach us the tongues of the angry so that our blood, my pulse—our hearts flow with the warm healing of anger. You, August, have carried in your belly every song of affront your characters have spoken, and maybe you waited too long to howl against the night, but each evening on some wooden stage, these men and women, learn to sing songs lost for centuries, learn the healing of talk, the calming of quarrel, the music of contention, and in this cacophonic chorus, we find the ritual of living.
This bassline is sticky like asphalt
and wet like molasses heated nice and hot,
and the bass drum booms my heart,
jumping me, jump-starting me
to find the path of this sluggish sound;
I follow the tap like a fly catching light
in its rainbow gossamer wings
on top of a big-ear elephant;
I follow the pluck of a mute lead-guitar string,
tacking, tacking out a tattoo to the bassline;
I let the syrup surround my legs
and my waist is moving without a cue,
without a clue of where we are going,
walking on the spot like this.
Coolly, deadly, roots sound on my back,
and I can conjure hope in anything;
dreams in my cubbyhole of a room where
the roaches scuttle from the tonguing gecko.
This music finds me giddy and centered, but when
morning comes, I am lost again, no love, just lost again.