Our Bodies Break Light - Traci Brimhall

 

We crawl through the tall grass and idle light,

our chests against the earth so we can hear the river

underground. Our backs carry rotting wood and books

that hold no stories of damnation or miracles.

One day as we listen for water, we find a beekeeper—

one eye pearled by a cataract, the other cut out by his own hand

so he might know both types of blindness. When we stand

in front of him, he says we are prisms breaking light into color—

our right shoulders red, our left hips a wavering indigo.

His apiaries are empty except for dead queens, and he sits

on his quiet boxes humming as he licks honey from the bodies

of drones. He tells me he smelled my southern skin for miles,

says the graveyard is full of dead prophets. To you, he presents

his arms, tattooed with songs slave catchers whistle

as they unleash the dogs. He lets you see the burns on his chest

from the time he set fire to boats and pushed them out to sea.

You ask why no one believes in madness anymore,

and he tells you stars need a darkness to see themselves by.

When you ask about resurrection, he says, How can you doubt?

and shows you a deer licking salt from a lynched man’s palm.