The Fight and The Fiddle

What Breath Gives Back #6

by Patricia Smith

6.

Blue lash had taught my back the wound. You see,
however, what becomes of one who heals.
A man must learn to skillfully conceal,
and then command, his scars. I disagree
with those who say the night mines deep, that we
are shattered still by yesterday’s ordeal.
When trickster gods commanded me to “Kneel!”
they never heard me hiss the pedigree
that’s brought me to this day—this straightened back,
this silken tie, this collar pressed, these eyes
refusing to relent or guarantee
the lens a pliant soul. Perhaps I lack
a name that’s truly mine, not bastardized.
But reverie is salve. I named me free.

 

 

 

Poem copyright 2017 by Patricia Smith. Photograph courtesy Smith-DeSilva collection.
All rights reserved.


See more poems from this series debuted on The Fight & The Fiddle: What Breath Gives Back #3, #8, #19


Read more in this issue: Interview | Critical Essay | Writing Prompt