from Olio. Copyright 2016 by Tyehimba Jess. Reprinted with permission of the author and Wave Books.
WHAT THE WIND, RAIN, AND THUNDER SAID TO TOM
Hear how sky opens its maw to swallow
Earth? To claim each being and blade and rock
with its spit? Become your own full sky. Own
every damn sound that struts through your ears.
Shove notes in your head till they bust out where
your eyes supposed to shine. Cast your lean
brightness across the world and folk will stare
when your hands touch piano. Bend our breath
through each fingertip uncurled and spread
upon the upright’s eighty-eight pegs.
Jangle up its teeth until it can tell
our story the way you would tell your own:
the way you take darkness and make it moan.
BLIND TOM PLAYS ON . . .
Who am I to deny this world? This gift
of music storming through me? It howls out
my fingers when I reach into God’s mouth
of piano, grabbin’ fistfuls of sun with
each song. It spins me in circles, surrounds
me in starshine, mounts my head, hands, and heart
till I tell it what it wants, tell it how
we are all one wave of notes in the dark
gospel of the universe. Can’t you hear
the chorus of moonlight? Can’t you see
the way each note shines? It’s all right here
just beneath the skin, like something I seem
to remember–the sound of my mother crying
while her hands danced across me–free, flying…