This Morning I Miss Such Devotion

By VIEVEE FRANCIS

 

There is a sister whose voice is gentle as a lullaby. A lulling. Even when angered she won’t yell. A particular upbringing that eschews the loud, though such a woman can be found embracing those whose voices swell in the streets. Perhaps less saintliness than a vicarious expression of her own rage? Frustrations? Drawing the brawler, the harsh and violent close. The softness embedded in her accent. An oiled woman. Pink lipstick on her brown lips. A woman who pulls biscuits on a Saturday from the oven. Bathwater woman. Sweet liquor in a white cabinet woman. I have found this woman in Tennessee. In Texas. In Alabama. In Mississippi. And clung to her. Darling, and Dearest, and Hush Honey on the tongue. Not silence but delicacy. A blue slip in the drawer. A breeze through the oak leaves. Cuss and she won’t shush you, she’ll laugh and take you inside. Feed you cake, brush out your damp hair, pull you onto her lap, draw the cedar from the wound.

 

[Purchase Issue 14 here.]

Vievee Francis is the author of Forest Primeval; Horse in the Dark, which won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize for a second collection; and Blue-Tail Fly. Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including POETRY; Waxwing; Best American Poetry 2010, 2014, and 2017; and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of African American Poetry. She was the recipient of the 2016 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

This Morning I Miss Such Devotion

Related Posts

Headshot of Oliver de la Paz

Poetry-Making as Empathy Play: An Interview with Oliver de la Paz

OLIVER DE LA PAZ
I had just come to terms with the realization that I had been writing about my neurodiverse kids, but through the mask of the Theseus and the Minotaur allusion. That’s when I started messing about with other shapes and structures, like mathematical equations and multiple choice questions.

Image of apple

Roya Zarrin: Three Persian Poems in Translation

ROYA ZARRIN
Did you hear? / They're calling me / from my northern gardens, with the scent of rice, / and from southern gardens, with the scent of revelation trees. / Forget water justice. / Don’t follow me. / Today I’m bitter, Obadiah. / Today is the feast of sacrifice ...

Yard

January 2020 Poetry Feature

MARCUS SCOTT WILLIAMS
iont remember my impressions before we installed the white picket-fence around the yard, but i like it now, makes the yard feel smaller, surrounding you like a bear hug. i know this yard. water balloon fights where balloons don’t satisfy-pop, jarring lightning bugs ...