Wednesday, October 5, 2016

At the Grave of Zora Neale Hurston by Derrick Austin

At the Grave of Zora Neale Hurston

I kept my mad hound, Zora.
We wandered many miles,
pollen and dust staining us
the gold of ancient idols.

I got wet dog under my fingers.
He smells like me now, too,
you see he’s carried road kill
all the way here—raccoon,

then possum, hitched a fawn
five miles north, buried a fox
outside of town—it’s in the blood
of his teeth. He found me, too,

by the roadside. Followed me
ever since. That first night,
I saw myself as that hound
licking my own face clean.

That morning, a distant cousin
gave me his gun, told me
to kill it. I couldn’t shoot him.
Anything that loves you will

lay down for you or know enough
to fake it. I’m a coward in my life
unlike my work. I don’t know
which is worse. So many things

are conspiring to kill me, Zora.
Not only sickness and guns
but the tongues of those who
would sooner kiss me or call me

lover. Zora, it’s not my dying day.


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