Heirloom - Poem by Nikky Finney
Sundown, the day nearly eaten away,
the Boxcar Willies peep. Their
inside-eyes push black and plump
against walls of pumpkin skin. I step
into dying backyard light. Both hands
steal into the swollen summer air,
a blind reach into a blaze of acid,
ghost bloom of nacre & breast.
One Atlantan Cherokee Purple,
two piddling Radiator Charlies
are Lena-Horne lured into the fingers
of my right hand. But I really do love you,
enters my ear like a nest of yellow jackets,
well wedged beneath a two-by-four.
But I really didn't think I would (ever leave),
stings before the ladder hits the ground.
I swat the familiar buzz away.
My good arm arcs and aims.
My elbow cranks a high, hard cradle
and draws a fire. The end of the day's
sweaty air stirs fast in a bowl, the coming
shadows, the very diamond match I need.
One by one, each Blind Willie
takes his turn Pollocking the back
fence, heart pine explodes gold-leafed in
red and brown-eyed ochre. There is practice
for everything in this life. This is how
you throw something perfectly good away.
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