Sundown, the day nearly eaten away, the Boxcar Willies peep. Their inside-eyes push black and plump against walls of pumpkin skin. I step into dying backyard light. Both hands steal into the swollen summer air, a blind reach into a blaze of acid, ghost bloom of nacre & breast. One Atlantan Cherokee Purple, two piddling Radiator Charlies are Lena-Horne lured into the fingers of my right hand. But I really do love you, enters my ear like a nest of yellow jackets, well wedged beneath a two-by-four. But I really didn't think I would (ever leave), stings before the ladder hits the ground. I swat the familiar buzz away. My good arm arcs and aims. My elbow cranks a high, hard cradle and draws a fire. The end of the day's sweaty air stirs fast in a bowl, the coming shadows, the very diamond match I need. One by one, each Blind Willie takes his turn Pollocking the back fence, heart pine explodes gold-leafed in red and brown-eyed ochre. There is practice for everything in this life. This is how you throw something perfectly good away.
From Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney. Copyright © 2011 by Nikky Finney. Reprinted with permission from TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern. All rights reserved.
In addition to the National Book Award, Finney has received a PEN American Open Book Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry
Date Published: 2011-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/heirloom