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183

Kind of Blue

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pearl's mad at miles
told everybody her business
by telling his

how can we make love
to the keys, the fingers that pushed out
the sweet melody
that beat the kink
right outta cicely's neck

what happened to the oiled cotton courageous
and who did she become
oddly silent
her story the darker greek we've sung

we are not supposed to forgive miles
for what he did
supposed to give away
his music to the tolerant masses
who don't mind the irony of this antihero
the sneer that looks as if
it holds a limerick
holds a lullaby instead
coaxing lovers to open
soften and croon

pearl says we should never
forgive miles
says keep him at the gates, like tantalus
begging peter forever
wishing the keys from his hands

but i think i can forgive him
forgive him like i do my daddy
a little every day

his hands didn't always hurt
didn't always push
no
mostly, they carried
soil, pipe tobacco and matches
inks from fountain pens
type for the books he'd set
old books sold with mama
brother from the hospital
tears when his father died

maybe pearl doesn't know
that love from daughters is complicated
that without forgive
there is nothing left
no memory that is not stuck to his face
a garden
a record under the hi-fi
sketches of spain,
my father had

see, if i don't forgive daddy
then i miss all of miles
all the sticky croon
the warm silver tones that give
the slow flicker of low light on water

both my daddy and miles are gone now
but they probably too cool
to hang out with each other

as i pull out old photos
of my father kneeling with eggplants
i pull another tune from the anthology that is miles
the puzzle of love these men lived

i keep them in just enough light
to keep their shape, but not their color
a kind of blue


Note: Inspired by Pearl Cleage's essay, "Mad at Miles."

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