What Breath Gives Back #8

by Patricia Smith


We plunge into a vow of stuttered light,
the two of us—stand still they coo at him
but hiss toward me. I blink and gnash a hymn
behind my teeth. Emanuel’s polite,
but frightened—I am frightened, but polite.
The eye has sipped our sheltered truths, the grim
fidelity we hide. He’ll whisper Jim?
when this is done—he knows I’ll answer right

away, while blindly reaching for his hand.
We’ll mumble of the stiff and numbing moan
in both our backs. We’re weary, but aware—
our faces scorched to tin means no one can
deny his ownership of me. Go home,
they say. I wait. The boy will tell me where.




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, #6, #19

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

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