after Margaret Walker’s “For My People”
The Lord clings to my hands
after a night of shouting.
The Lord stands on my roof
& sleeps in my bed.
Sings the darkened, Egun tunnel—
cooks my food in abundance,
though I was once foolish
& wished for an emptied stomach.
The Lord drapes me with rolls of fat
& plaits my hair with sanity.
Gives me air,
music from unremembered fever.
oh that i may give air to my people
oh interruption of murder
the welcome Selah
The Lord is a green, Tubman escape.
A street buzzing with concern,
minds discarding answers.
Black feet on a centuries-long journey.
The Lord is the dead one scratching my face,
pinching me in dreams.
The screaming of the little girl that I was,
the rocking of the little girl that I was—
the sweet hush of her healing.
skipping on homesick pink.
I pray to my God of confused love,
a toe touching blood
& swimming through Moses-water.
A cloth & wise rocking.
An eventual Passover,
outlined skeletons will sing
this day of air
for my people—
oh the roar of God
oh our prophesied walking
Copyright © 2020 by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 17, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“The past few weeks were very hopeful for me, as an African-American. I saw images of young Black people out in the streets protesting, to make this country a better place. As an older person who stayed inside while these young folks put their bodies on the line, I wanted to celebrate them. I wrote this poem as a spiritual exaltation of Black faith, that our hoped-for change for our country is coming.”
—Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Date Published: 2020-07-17
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/selah