- Sweet Blood
Like stars the mosquitoes swarm. He's gone. We sit unscreened on the porch, my father doused in bugspray, that sweet-sick stank. We drink because my father's father be buried, because the road will not carry anyone but cousins, or neighbors whose silhouettes and dust we know. We drink. Only son of an only son, I do not share my father's sweet blood— what draws the skeeters near him, braving the repellant cloud, his quick hands, for a taste. Finally my father gives— I'm getting eaten up— and heads inside slapping red his legs. Somewhere by the highwayside [End Page 1069] my grandfather rests, his body vaulted in ground that does not shift we hope, or give back its dead. We drink and forgive the bugs who come for us with dusk, who draw blood the way we swallow thin beer and words like love—in order to survive.
Kevin Young is author of five volumes of poems: Most Way Home, To Repel Ghosts, Jelly Roll: A Blues, Black Maria, and For the Confederate Dead. Blues Poems and Giant Steps: The New Generation of African American Writers are the anthologies he has edited. He has been awarded such fellowships as the Stegner in Poetry (Stanford University), Guggenheim, NEA, and MacDowell Colony. Currently he is curator of the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, and Atticus Haygood Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.