A pretty signature three lines above my own—
so the leatherbound registry forces many years
down through the bone-broad curvatures
where every name is made. “Joy Spring”—
the ever black-and-white jazz standard rose,
always buoyant, wing-tip tapping, exhalant
mother-bloom—and “Diamond”—edge of
transubstantiated light—a hard old needle
digging in this porous earth for harmonies.
Was she born in a spongy shuttered house,
tongues of lead on every peeling surface?
Or in some communal manger, half choked
by desperate spirits of the healed and saved?
In a cloud-white limo? At the movies?
Where is she at this moment? Sublimely
gliding through the shattered bricks of 1963,
peering up close at an opaque minstrel show,
kneeling suddenly to cross herself between
appalling torchlight and a trumped-up charge—
torn down—now right here in the present, safe
behind the velvet ropes and temporary chains.
Only one figure at the cumulus bay window’s
counting in the instant when my writing hand
just stops for the small prayer of her name.