Poem for "A Song for Night" by Andrea Walls

(for Chris Abani)

I cannot weep another child through
my throat is full. Eyes brimless.
one drum’s-breath from the anvil, holding.

Only a river can keep these secrets.
And you send a coffin to be my raft;
a boy’s voice,
half fingers, half smoke;
as a voyage from drowning to thunder.

Who shall I save?
The absence of children?

My own hips in love with ghosts--
A soldier’s footprints.
Empty harvests of clicking stone.

And the kill-clocks cough through dog years,
batteries of regret.

Who makes of baby’s breath, a war?
Letting fall, from the crawl space of memory,
a cigarette’s language of hands,
           m-o-t-h-e-r ?                
        (impossible word)
I answer, son? 

Your, “Night,” breaks at my bosom.
Splits the body, leaves the dark
beauty destroys.


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Contributor Notes

This poem is inspired by, and dedicated to, Chris Abani.  I wrote it after reading his novel, "A Song for Night."  I felt his language in my body as I read.  It changed my blood pressure.  I did not know whether to weep with the story's sorrow or revel in the author's poetry.  I was moved.  This poem is what I offer in return.