Poet of the Week: Jacqueline Allen Trimble
Nat Turner Returns for His Stolen Parts
and Finds a Sermon of Rage
Nat Turner makes the slow trek through
the attics of America. He wishes
to pull himself together. He knocks on doors.
And the ones who answer clutch his parts like charms.
And the ones who answer call him “apparition,”
“ghost,” “spook.” No matter. Nights,
he creeps between the sutures of history
and takes himself back. Nat Turner walks
through America. He meets a black man.
Hey man, “How does your rage fare?”
The man says, “My rage is as coy
as public impotence
as long and blunt as a billystick
as black as a cruiser
as careless as a traffic stop
as pale and slender as hand rolled cigarettes
as real as toy guns
as bloody as blood
on a white t-shirt
in the front seat of a paid off hearse.”
Nat Turner walks tall through America.
He meets a black woman. “Sister,” he says,”
“How does your rage fare?”
“My rage,” she says, “Is a dragging by the hair,
a fissure in the head, a shuttered eye, a city-wide lie, Lord,
a you shalt not, a page five story, a that’s my baby,
a bomb unmoored.
My rage is dead girl smiling
a dead boy sagging, a dead man breathing,
a dead woman swinging.
It’s as nimble, Lord, as a sassy tongue.”
Nat Turner lifts his eyes to the hills.
The whole of him is avenging angel.
He absolves the wicked and blind with his sword.
“Lord,” he prays, “Lord, Lord, Lord
build a hedge of protection so high
we can’t see a thing but our rage.
Let rage keeps us woke all night
and all day. Let us sharpen our daggers
on its whetstone. Let us lower our blades
again and again for mercy and love.
Our rage, yes Lord, our rage
more powerful than despair,
able to leap tall headstones