The Blue Terrance

If you subtract the minor losses,
you can return to your childhood too:
the blackboard chalked with crosses,
 
the math teacher’s toe ring. You
can be the black boy not even the buck-
toothed girls took a liking to:
 
this match box, these bones in their funk
machine, this thumb worn smooth
as the belly of a shovel. Thump. Thump.
 
Thump. Everything I hold takes root.
I remember what the world was like before
I heard the tide humping the shore smooth,
 
and the lyrics asking: How long has your door
been closed? I remember a garter belt wrung
like a snake around a thigh in the shadows
 
of a wedding gown before it was flung
out into the bluest part of the night.
Suppose you were nothing but a song
 
in a busted speaker? Suppose you had to wipe
sweat from the brow of a righteous woman,
but all you owned was a dirty rag? That’s why
 
the blues will never go out of fashion:
their half rotten aroma, their bloodshot octaves of
consequence; that’s why when they call, Boy, you’re in

Terrance Hayes, "The Blue Terrance: If you subtract the minor losses..." from Wind in a Box by Terrance Hayes, copyright © 2006 by Terrance Hayes.  Used by permission of Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. 
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