Henri Cole (May 09, 1956 -)
Sir, I don’t have no black tea, the waitress replied,
so I ordered Black Label instead. It was summer and the fragrant
white flowers of the black locusts had awakened, like faeries or obscure matter.
A black bear clothed in thorns made a mess of the bird feeder where hungry
blackcaps were a vision. And the black flies were biting energetically.
Billy died of the Black Death (I shouldn’t call it that) and hovered like a winged horseman.
There’s nothing so wrong as when young folks die. I smashed my bike,
blacked out, and got two black eyes. At the Mayo Clinic,
Daddy had his arteries cleared, praising the surgeon’s fine black hands.
After he died, we called everyone in his black book and found
a black space that couldn’t be lifted by impotent wings. Like me,
he was the black sheep. There were struggles. Once, driving near Black Mountain,
he blurted, “There ain’t nothing so good as stolen corn or watermelon.”
His face was like a smiling black spider’s. Questioning the earth
from which he came (“Son, you got mixed blood”)—and that drew him back—
he cleared a way forward into the murky light. Beside the roadside blacktop,
a deer, with black diamonds in its eyes, lay in a bed of black pansies.
Around us, black ash and black walnuts made a velvety curtain.
Dead ten years, he visits me often, like a head behind bars, with that black temper
and black bile still coming out of his mouth, but tenderness, too, like black gold.
Did I love him back, I wonder? If I loved him with all my heart
and all my liver, why did I spit him in the river?