Blindfolded and gagged, tossed in the back of a car—it's how they gather up young men and after tire irons and chains, leave some
lying in the road like dirt, rained on all night. Some are bundled-up, tossed off a bridge into the river whose muddy swirls warn:
kick, fight, breathe, twist your arms free. Some do. They rise, spit out the rags stuffed in their mouths, limp back to town,
and one begins to sing—slow at first— Lord, I want to be in that number ... Another moans a low muted tone where words won't go.
And there's a bridge from verse to verse, where bodies rise out of thicket and ditch, out of jail cell, ravine and watery grave,
where gone, invisible hands seem to lift like drum sticks, and soul sax blood brass begin to flow, a band improvising
resurrection, until the dead take to the streets, a spirit insurrection, dripping river muck and frayed rope—
with crow-pecked eyes, burnt flesh, charred bone, they rise, every flown soul finding its way back through troubled air to swell that song.
Betsy Sholl, former poet laureate of Maine, lives in Portland. Her most recent poetry collection is Rough Cradle (Alice James Books).
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