Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2018  Vol. 17 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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Lumped beliefs, like populations,
breed their panoplies. Soon
it’s thankfully hard to tell
root from self, past from burden.
These Miami front-yard shrines
hallow fertile confusion.
Santa Bárbara is Changó in Cuba,
but in Brazil the god of thunder
is paired with Jerome. Metaphor
is always local. The belief
is the same, the mask cannot help
but fall away in the rasp of rapture.
Smoke, chant, fruit, and blood.
There are wisdoms oceanic,
and they too have a god,
Olokun, and a sultry goddess
Yemayá, crossing his unforgiving sea
to the New World made old
with prayers that reverse
the miner’s toil and the smelter’s
bullion. In fusion lies
the pearl, grime clumped
into a world, spun yet still,
the way Ochún sits knitting
at the bottom of the river,
patient as marriage.  

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