And I’ll say the first heat of our song, pounding like a pair of hounds on our hot and happy piano, bitten with breath. And nobody fought anybody for rhythm, for the fitting together that steamed like a pot of Chai. Whole foyers at the Guthrie gawked as we walked together, after playing
with Shakespeare, after sitting near, with no reason not to touch the other. We were noble without knowing why, kinsmen who’d seen Eden without our eyes. We made tales and apples grow holy, reaching with each other’s hands as we stretched toward adjectives that hung on the limbs of our
very slow syllables, sighing through stories we didn’t have to tell. I remember how each other’s books turned each of our heads like the looks a girl can get from hard hats, from those guys who’re up and ready, and I was, and you’d been to school long before for just that, knowing no difference
between your nearness and what others felt you’d baited them with, your lure my laughter, mine, your love of things dumb. We ate goat from chipped plates in downtown Minn MN while I wore a Somali jellabiya found in the resale shop, all white and wintered up, wanting you to want me to
wear it one day, to pray O holy the blood of men whose breath can walk slowly over the phone’s tightrope of our talk. And me, an undercover counselor, eying what you never felt you’d deserved. You wanted dirt and coverings of it, and you said over nachos in a village inn that I was your savior.
I remember whispering only to myself that that’s what I wanted, too. And I tipped the waiter a distraction so that I could stay right there, longer than I deserved, before the bill would arrive, years later, asking me to pay for all of this.
Joseph Byrd’s work has appeared in The Plentitudes, DIAGRAM, Aji, Long River Review, The Ravens Perch, and forthcoming work in South Florida Poetry Journal, New Note Poetry, shufPoetry, and PROEM. He was in the 2021 StoryBoard Chicago cohort with Kaveh Akbar, and was an Associate Artist in Poetry under Joy Harjo at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. He was a facilitator with Shakespeare Behind Bars for five years, and is on the Reading Board for The Plentitudes.