Volume 34, Number 1

Go Tell It on the Mountain

May you be the one book I can't bear to read,
Mark of mischief in an age of editors.
I could not quite slough off the sacred,
its clients dressed their demons up as demagogues,
did away with bull-gods in the half-thawed woods
of their minds. WASP in all but name,
I had taken pity on the animals
in as far as they were bit actors
in man's man-minded motion:
we were not custody-kindred.

I knew your people from photographs.
They were like Jews: dressed like White men,
still got killed,
just as White men had killed one another in the last war.

Strange fruit, black milk were my daily bread.
Religion was the forbidden compensation.

Reading, the two combined to produce
dread of the thing not done,
despair at vigils had—
the entanglement that makes you feel
the fall is real this time

—Coen van der Wolf