The Blue Terrance

posted Jun 2, 2005

I come from a long line hollowed out on a dry night,
the first son in a line of someone else's children,
afraid of water, closets, other people's weapons,
hunger and stupidity, afraid of the elderly and the new dead,
bodies tanned by lightening, afraid of dogs without ethos,
each white fang on the long walk home. I believe all the stories
of who I was: a hardback book, a tent behind the house
of a grandmother who was not my grandmother, the smell of beer,
which is a smell like sweat. They say I climbed to the roof
with a box of light bulbs beneath my arm. Before the bricks,
there were trees, before the trees, there were lovers
barely rooted to the field, but let's not talk about them,
it makes me blue. I come from boys throwing rocks
bigger than their fists at the head of the burned girl,
her white legs webbed as lace on a doily. In someone's garage
there was a flashlight on two dogs pinched in heat.
And later, a few of the puppies born dead and too small
to be missed. I come from howls sent up all night and all day,
summers below the hoop and board nailed to a pine tree.
I come from light bulbs glowing with no light and no expressions,
thrown as far as the will allows like a night chore, like a god
changing his mind; from the light broken on the black road
leading to my mother. Tell me what you remember of her
now that her walk is old, now that the bone in her hip strains
to heal its fracture? I come from the hot season
gathering its things and leaving. I come from the dirt road
leading to the paved one. I will not return to the earth
as if I had never been born. I will not wait to become a bird
dark enough to bury itself in midair. I wake up sometimes
in the middle of the country with fur on my neck.
Where did they bury my dog after she hung herself,
and into the roots of what tree are those bones entangled?
I come blessed like a river of black rock, like a long secret,
and the kind of kindness like a door that is closed
but not locked. Yesterday I was nothing but a road
heading four ways. When I threatened to runaway
my mother said she would take me where ever I wanted to go.

Terrance Hayes is the author of Hip Logic and Muscular Music and has been the recipient of many honors and awards including a Whiting Writers Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, a National Poetry Series award, a Pushcart Prize, a Best American Poetry selection, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Wind in a Box, his third book is forthcoming from Penguin in the Spring of 2006. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Carnegie Mellon University and lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his family.