Aubade to Langston
When the light wakes & finds again
the music of brooms in Mexico,
when daylight pulls our hands from grief,
& hearts cleaned raw with sawdust
& saltwater flood their dazzling vessels,
when the catfish in the river
raise their eyelids towards your face,
when sweetgrass bends in waves
across battlefields where sweat
& sugar marry, when we hear our people
wearing tongues fine with plain
greeting: How You Doing, Good Morning
when I pour coffee & remember
my mother's love of buttered grits,
when the trains far away in memory
begin to turn their engines toward
a deep past of knowing,
when all I want to do is burn
my masks, when I see a woman
walking down the street holding her mind
like a leather belt, when I pluck a blues note
for my lazy shadow & cast its soul from my page,
when I see God's eyes looking up at black folks
flying between moonlight & museum,
when I see a good-looking people
who are my truest poetry,
when I pick up this pencil like a flute
& blow myself away from my death,
I listen to you again beneath the mercy
of a blue morning's grammar.
Copyright © 2016 by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Originally published in the Southern Humanities Review, Vol. 49.3. Used with permission of the author.
Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet, visual artist, and novelist. Her hybrid collection of poetry and photography, Seeing the Body (W.W. Norton), was published in 2020.
Other poetry collections by Griffiths include Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015), The Requited Distance (Sheep Meadow Press, 2011), Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011), and Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010).
Also a visual artist, Griffiths is the creator of Poets on Poetry (P.O.P), an intimate series of interviews, which gathers more than fifty contemporary poets together in conversation to discuss poetry in relation to individual human experience and culture.
Griffiths is a recipient of fellowships including Cave Canem, Kimbilio, Millay Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and Yaddo. Her forthcoming debut novel, Promise, will be published by Random House. Griffiths was the guest editor for Poem-a-Day in February 2021, and she lives in New York City.
Seeing the Body (W. W. Norton, 2020)
Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015)
Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011)
The Requited Distance (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2011)
Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010)
Date Published: 2016-04-08
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/aubade-langston