Today’s Poem from

Atsuro Riley

We were all of us empty of its heft and Tammy could tell.

Being she herself was (wildling) (loosestrife-weed)
(undaddied) same as us.

Flung chaff-motes that we were
she saw to tell us time and time that yonder oak its bark and bulk.

She harped on it; she rendered.Instilled-
elucidated treeness piece by part.

Have I said yet (howsoever she’d’ve told us) it was never it to her but him.

As in I school myselfI climb the bluffI followfeel the roots of him.They river-
bound They gnarlin’ up from mud [black pluff!] He veins the bank.

Some say.Word was.
—That her (fleetblooded) actual daddy jacked the toll-thru (humps the trains).

She dwelled on it; she brooded.Elaborated-
fleshed for us especially much his arms.

How one mossy brawn-span she favored
had been scathed (engraved along its length) by lightning.

How the long-muscled (strict, striated) river-hanging-over one would hold.

You could loop a rope there Nearabout the bicep
Whap you up a wide horsehead knot to grip.To ride good Rid fear Let’s
not feature no blackflow flowin’ down below.

Cling strong till your hands numb till your blood goes.
Swing low.You could bellow you could holler while you’re at it (Bending with you
not to break) You could set yourself swayin’ till kingdom come Till he hears you till

he weighs you. You could ring rightful like the tongue of a bell.

from the book HEARD-HOARD / University of Chicago Press