Boy in Blue

Boy in Blue
Poetry by Kwame Dawes

Images by Andre Lamberston

The words cluster behind your teeth;

close in, the smooth patina, deep brown,

of your face is alight with the effort:

you, boy, carrying the weight

of an old man; this body of yours

broken again and again by the accident

of your birth. I follow the slow

wave of your thick lashes, you are

counting the words, searching

your heart for the right music—

"Sometimes, I wonder why;

sometimes I wonder if

my mother did this—then I grow

dark, the world swallows light

around me, then I cry—only

sometimes, I cry, and then I laugh,

just like that, in a few seconds,

I laugh and I cry and I dream again.

A drum and incendiary tongues

darting through the low rafters

would be easier—a prophet speaking,

telling us the why of the moving earth,

the rubble of our city; even the priest

with his soft horse eyes, his mouth

moving quickly over my skin, even

that would be easier than this

silence; the dark streets of the city,

the heat in my skin, my mother

praying in the shadows, singing

from deeper than I will ever go;

and when I sing, I know how

to fly, and how to reach where

the water eases the spinning

in my stomach, and this blood

is not my enemy when I sing.
We leave you in the growing dusk,

the scent of rain is heavy in the air—

somewhere beside the broken palace,

the sky opens up, and the streets

flood—the sound of cataclysms,

so normal now—I imagine you,

like these children, dancing

in the deluge, naked as holiness.