- The Keening
swells the moon. And the eyes that look to it.And the ears that hear it move over and betweenevery living thing. That move through every dead one.When stabbed, if stabbed more than once, a thresholdis reached. The point of no return. A horizonthat holds no other horizon. The pain keeps.But the blood flows out wending its way as waterso salted finds its level. The sound of the wound like the soundof the wounds. Constant. It can be stood because it isalways there. The keening. There is always a mouththat needs. Always hands empty. And love, fickle and feckless.A dog at the door of an empty house. A man weeps, willing enough todevour or deny what he craves for those he does not. A crow at the tailof a vulture. A vulture coveting something more majestic than itself.The child eaten by its father. The child stewed by its motherfor an ever-hungry father. Always the bones broken, re-broken, then set madly in the splint. A dirty girl swallowed wholeby a man dirtier still. The flowers are always taken for trash, butthe trash is always ringed in gold. Get the picture? A gloss of beautydispossessing beauty. A failing of the eye anda woman who mourns it all. The splinterin the cornea that needles the crier, that connects us all by tears. [End Page 75]
Vievee Francis is the author of and 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award winner for Forest Primeval (Northwestern UP, 2016). She also wrote Horse in the Dark (Northwestern UP, 2012) and Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State UP, 2006). Her work has appeared in numerous venues, including Poetry, Best American Poetry 2010, 2014, 2017, and Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry (2013). She serves as an associate editor of Callaloo and is an associate professor of English (creative writing) at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.