Love in the Water, Love in the Stone

By Jay Wright b. 1934 Jay Wright
Faithful bean lady of the plantain,
your tubular beads surround my voice.
You bring me a berry song so old
I hug the silences. You
embrace the silence and the clear light
on the track of your quest, to here.
I see now in that light myself
into the tangle of the river’s bottom.

Knee-deep in another’s bliss
I wake and find myself a stone
                                    at your lover’s feet.
Then stone upon stone,
I rise into another’s fire.
I touch your palm oil flesh
to light me from my cave.
And, if I rise, under your thunder,
into rain, I praise your touch.

Now, a life-long a laterite,
a rain of beads, palm kernel oil
stipulate my clipped time.
The earth weaves eight gold bridal veils
to cast into the sea. The moon
is up at noon to catch me naked,
drunk and dancing with a ram.
I use the loom of seasons so;
I abuse myself.
And, even if I leave you,
I marry your worship in my wife’s voice.

I begin the decline of having you
your memories feed me.
These are my intolerable survivals.
And so I take my love’s journey
from the language of your needs.
I mount my woman’s earth smell
in the shadows of your ageless eyes.
I crawl to the altar of your thunderstones
and bleed for the bride whose blood
will fill my name.

Jay Wright, “Love in the Water, Love in the Stone” from Transfigurations: Collected Poems. Copyright © 2000 by Jay Wright. Reprinted by permission of Jay Wright.

Source: Transfigurations: Collected Poems (Louisiana State University Press, 2000)

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Poet Jay Wright b. 1934

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Love

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Jay  Wright


Frequently described as a “poet’s poet,” Jay Wright has quietly built an impressive career as one of America’s leading African-American voices. His work, praised for its evocative language, introspective tone, and mythological imagery, has won many honors, including the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, Guggenheim and MacArthur fellowships, and Yale’s prestigious Bollingen Prize. Wright’s plays, essays, and poetry generally . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Love

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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