after Terrance Hayes
I come from a long line of preachers
and farmers, hard bales of sweet hay stacked
against the barn—afraid of UFOs, hell,
and daddy’s belt, doors shedding
dark insides to the noon. I come from things
that kill you slower than hunger or winter,
bed-ridden summers when I made my way down
the hall so quietly momma said one night
she reached for the pistol in the nightstand.
I come from the gallop of rain on tin
roof, at times could hear the chorus of my own
grief, even then, driving over the crawl
and vine of kudzu. Before our house,
there was the old house, tangerine
honeycomb of the kerosene heater.
Before the hurricane, the driftwood sky.
Where do good folks go when they die?
We buried the pup that got hit by the truck
underneath cheap pansies—the dog, in heat, who
hung herself, I never saw again. We just went on
to church, without question. I come from without
ceasing, repeating Jesus, his name, to the demons
in the charged dark. After the stroke, my father
talked always of going back to Arkansas,
all his sermons gathering like a thousand sparrows,
settling into the cleft of that mountain only he
knows. When I go home it will be a deer
driving its velvet antlers into my chest.
I come from a long line of drinkers. We sell
ourselves, ounce by ounce, to the moon.