The tongue finds the sparrow
softly nestled in the cheek;
a white call of feathers plumes
wild in each throat. Our murmurs,
pulled thin through the narrow beak,
come to settle
in the other.
Whose gasp, teeth-caught, whistles
through the mind’s thick chapel—
sounding this, the warmest note?
Sire the muscle, bruise bone; make music
of your brittle animal.
I came to you with hungry wrestle, numb
dismissals, open jaw—
I came with mammy eye and pappy lie;
black duppy bruising you in the night
mute in this summer’s fathered dark,
I gave you skin and bone, teeth and heart.
I swallowed stone after stone,
anchoring myself in the shallow
vein of your palm.
Nobody saved you,
white as a throat
as I washed Noah’s animals
wailing at me from the dark.
I bathed them in a deluge
of the spit, the bile, the phlegm,
the offal we called love-making when
eyes shut tight, you dared not look
as your arrows went through my limbs.
As you latched your bones into me,
I know you were thumbing the eye of God;
hands clasped ‘round a body you
couldn’t see in the dark, praying
But sugarcane burnt this blood black
and the rumbling sea knows
which names to call me
‘til I crumble like cornmeal pudding Hallelujah
Nobody warned you,
cold as bone,
that this hair uproots in nettle-stings,
to dress for fire, and bring a thicker whip;
that what you thought was sparrow
was Jamaican grassquit.