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Praise Be

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When the trees were guilty, hugged up
to history & locked in a cross-brace
with Whitman's Louisiana live oak,
you went into that mossy weather.

Did you witness the shotguns at Angola
riding on horseback through the tall sway
of sugarcane, the glint of blue steel
in the bloodred strawberry fields?

Silence was backed up in the cypress,
but you could hear the birds of woe
singing praise where the almost broken-
through sorrow rose from the deep woods

& walked out into moonshine as the brave
ones. You went among those who had half
a voice, whose ancestors mastered quicksand
by disappearing. Maybe our paths crossed

ghosts hogtied in the wounded night,
but it is only now I say this: Galway,
thanks for going down into our fierce hush
at the crossroads to look fear in the eye.



Yusef Komunyakaa, "Praise Be" from The Emperor of Water Clocks. Copyright © 2015 by Yusef Komunyakaa.  Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Source: The Emperor of Water Clocks (Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2015)
Praise Be

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