Elegy for my husband
Bruce Derricotte, June 22, 1928 - June 21, 2011
What was there is no longer there: Not the blood running its wires of flame through the whole length Not the memories, the texts written in the language of the flat hills No, not the memories, the porch swing and the father crying The genteel and elegant aunt bleeding out on the highway (Too black for the white ambulance to pick up) Who had sent back lacquered plates from China Who had given away her best ivory comb that one time she was angry Not the muscles, the ones the white girls longed to touch But must not (for your mother warned You would be lynched in that all-white Ohio town you grew up in) Not that same town where you were the only, the one good black boy All that is gone Not the muscles running, the baseball flying into your mitt Not the hand that laid itself over my heart and saved me Not the eyes that held the long gold tunnel I believed in Not the restrained hand in love and in anger Not the holding back Not the taut holding
Copyright © 2012 by Toi Derricotte. Used with permission of the author.
The author of several books of poetry, Toi Derricotte is cofounder of Cave Canem, a national poetry organization committed to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets. She served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2012 to 2017.
Date Published: 2012-01-17
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/elegy-my-husband