Where did the light in Arkansas begin?
by Lamont Palmer
Where it could burn: spirit-flame, or be
Snuffed out in an exclusive smothering.
If her strength lies in the dirt of Stamps, it lies
Wildly, from an unpredictable birth, to a
Breeze moving over a place of hurts.
It wasn't the mystery, but the resilience of the move
That taught Jim Beam and Jim Crow to coexist,
That showed how night-madness can free a soul.
And in between the leaves of trees, growing in size
To produce enough inviting shade,
(Despite mean drunkenness that smashes things)
I will recall the effervescence of unhinged singing,
Octaves, turned into fantastic resolve to steady
Itself, not letting sadness undermine miracles.
Lovers were put in their proper places; the rich,
The poor, the baffled ones unable to duly understand
How the stage leads to pulpits; how Europe leads to Memphis.
Recitation becomes its own furious life,
Shaping the cage and the escaping song,
Roaming to the bowels of nowhere, to
Where everyone has a home, occasionally, in winter.
There, we can smile lovingly in the faces
Of future martyrs who showed their gaunt holes
Made by bullets, taunts and screams.
What words can do amazes the flesh, leaving
The mind to dwell on outhouse beginnings, or mist
Thick enough to hide God's uncanny sleight of hand
That takes a woman to where she deeply desired.