Marionette

for Amadou Diallo

The few strings snap and pull
the doll's flimsy limbs for his last
ballet, an American piece, arms flung
like a flamingo's wings, his sashay
a flame's undulation, dip, wave, head
snapped into a skygaze, a pained grin white
beneath the doorway's light, legs braiding
in the climactic pirouette, convulsive
shoulders rolling, the body's final drift
smooth as a sun-baked bloodflake
flecked off a rhino's horn, the gored
corpse sweet meat to a smoky gauze
of ravenous flies humming and blood-
sucking tiny gunpowder-singed hearts,
charred kiss marks, until, at last,
the strings go slack, the doll
sprawls in a crippled collapse, his face
half lit, the puppeteers praising this black
ghost's steel-pierced, last dying
quake, the dead sweet and clean,
and that last wheeze, an escaping, you've heard
it, drops the floodgates for the real ghosts,
a bouqet of them, a blitzkrieg of black orchids
roaring. And they blaze.

by Ross Gay

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