- Belly Song (for the Daytop Family)
“You have made somethingOut of the sea that blewAnd rolled you on its salt bitter lips.It nearly swallowed you.But I hearYou are tough and harder to swallow than most . . .”
1 And I and I / must admit that the sea in you has sung / to the sea / in me and I and I / must admit that the sea in me has fallen / in love with the sea in you because you have made something out of the sea that nearly swallowed you
And this poem This poem This poem / I give / to you. This poem is a song / I sing / I sing / to you from the bottom of the sea in my belly
This poem This poem This poem / is a song / about FEELINGS [End Page 953] about the Bone of feeling about the Stone of feeling And the Feather of feeling
2 This poem This poem This poem / is / a death / chant and a grave / stone and a prayer for the dead: for young Jackie Robinson a moving Blk / warrior who walked among us with a side / stride—and heavy heels moving moving moving thru the blood and mud and shit of Vietnam moving moving moving thru the blood and mud and dope of America for Jackie / who was /
a song and a stone and a Feather of feeling now dead and / gone / in this month of love
This poem This poem / is / a sliver feather and the sun-god / glinting / green hills breathing river flowing—for Sheryl and David—and their first / kiss by the river—for Mark and Sue and a Sunday walk on her grand / father’s farm for Sammy and Marion—love rhythms for Michael and Jean—love rhythms love / rhythms—love rhythms—and LIFE
3 This poem This poem This poem This poem / is / for ME—for me and the days / that lay / in the back of my mind when the sea / rose up / to swallow me [End Page 954] and the streets I walked were lonely streets were stone / cold streets
This poem This poem / is / for me / and the nights when I wrapped my feelings in a sheet of ice and stared at the stars thru iron bars and cried in the middle of my eyes . . .
This poem This poem This poem / is / for me and my woman and the yesterdays when she opened to me like a flower but I fell on her like a stone I fell on her like a stone . . .
4 And now—in my 40th year I have come here to this House of Feelings to this Singing Sea and I and I / must admit that the sea in me has fallen / in love with the sea in you because the sea that now sings / in you is the same sea that nearly swallowed you— and me too.
Etheridge Knight (1931–1991) is author of Poems from Prison, Belly Song and Other Poems, and Born of a Woman: New and Selected Poems.
Reprinted by permission of Broadside Press.