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.

Isabel MeyersThis Morning I Miss Such Devotion

Related Posts

bar bottles

Loss and Its Antonym

ALISON PRINE
I want to learn to write about the loves / that haven’t died—yellowed paperbacks / with broken spines, the stillness of the lake / from the fishing pier on winter mornings, / the people in this small city / I sometimes recognize on the sidewalk / a decade after our bar shut down.

June 2018 Poetry Feature

NATHALIE HANDAL
Because some words together / can frighten loneliness / like the lagoon moving aside / for the sea / Because you’ve chosen / the most crowded voices to hide in / Because you’ve chosen / the oldest wound to haunt you / Because I can’t show you / myself entirely