Poem: Blind Boone’s Vision by Tyehimba Jess

0 Posted by - March 20, 2021 - BLACK MEN, LATEST POSTS, Poems

Tyehimba Jess is an American poet. His book Olio received the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

Jess was born Jesse S. Goodwin. He grew up in Detroit, where his father worked in that city’s Department of Health. His father later became the first vice president of Detroit’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and his mother was a teacher and nurse, who founded a nursing school at Wayne County Community College in 1972.

At 16, Jess started writing poetry and by 18, he had won second prize for poetry at an NAACP academic competition. He graduated from high school in 1984. Next, he enrolled at the University of Chicago, where he intended to be an English major and pursue his poetry writing. However, he soon abandoned this as an option, and dropped out of the university in 1987. During this time, to support himself, Jess worked as an intern at a bank, as a community organizer, and as substitute teacher in the public school system in Chicago.

Blind Boone’s Vision

By Tyehimba Jess
When I got old enough
I asked my mother,
to her surprise,
to tell me what she did
with my eyes. She balked
and stalled, sounding
unsure for the first time
I could remember.
It was the tender way
she held my face
and kissed where tears
should have rolled
that told me I’d asked
of her the almost impossible—
to recount my blinding
tale, to tell what became
of the rest of me.
She took me by the hand
and led me to a small
sapling that stood not
much taller than me.
I could smell the green
marrow of its promise
reaching free of the soil
like a song from Earth’s
royal, dirty mouth.
Then Mother told me
how she, newly freed,
had prayed like a slave
through the night when
the surgeon took my eyes
to save my fevered life,
then got off her knees
come morning to take
the severed parts of me
for burial—right there
beneath that small tree.
They fed the roots,
climbed through its leaves
to soak in sunlight . . .
and so, she told me,
I can see.
When the wind rustles
up and cools me down,
when the earth shakes
with footsteps and when
the sound of birdcalls
stirs forests like the black
and white bustling
’neath my fingertips
I am of the light and shade
of my tree. Now,
ask me how tall
that tree of mine
has grown to be
after all this time—
it touches a place
between heaven and here.
And I shudder when I hear
the earth’s wind
in my bones
through the bones
of that boxed-up
swarm of wood,
bird and bee:
I let it loose . . .
and beyond

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