Final Poem Ending in a Beginning

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

six children jump Double-Dutch in autumn
rain, and the ropes’ helix is a seventh seeing.
It opens and closes like an eye-
lid and through its quickfire lens the smallest
child jumps. Rain in her hair, her bare feet
slap concrete church-rhythmic
as tambourines. I watch the girl keep time
then look past her to the other side
of the rope twirl’s wet eye, brick tenements
cementing my seeing to an ancient memory
this game turned gate-into-history creates.
Was it the Door of No Return beckoning return,
or the doorway to my grandmother’s mind,
her stroke-stunned body stripped of words
yet heavy with language: blink and cry, her hand
tight around my hand, the hospice dizzy
with slow minutes? Her moans cradled both
curse and confession. And those children,
the Beneficent’s right hand, sing with the words
my grandmother lost, a rhyme to heal
the days in the whoosh-clack of their twin whip
turned so fast it whistled, their feet escaping
in place. Mercy. Even the gods run
home in stillness, tossing up a spiritual
to greet the falling rain: Down by the river/
down by the sea/ you came to find your Savior/
but instead you found me waiting for
the song to end, the shrill voices
ringing like biloko bells to trap me there
in the ropes’ wet pupil shown through to the end
of knowledge where there is no slack, where language
breaks into molecule and memory, skin as percussion,
the glint of diamond in a dope boy’s grill, my own
mouth fit for Babel, a fool’s end, an end
to one-million sins in a single night, the end
of confession of silk of need the day’s end
ending at the ropes’ ends. End of breath of sound.
Words drop like seeds to this hard, wet ground.