Trane’s Ride

by Lisa Bernstein

I wanted to talk from God.
The hooves beat in my throat
plowing up notes
and from the dust cloud
poured a train of horses.
I saw the calm of my father’s feet
by the torn-up cabbage leaves,
a whole town in Louisiana
walking the dusty road,
a dank cabin where mothers strangled
in chains, a baby cried,
the silk edge of a blanket,
Naima, my witness
in this world.
I was choked by Him
and I had to keep beating down the keys
of my horn with my fingertips,
pressing and blowing
and someone rode me with brown tethers
hooked into my heart.
Then there came the time
in the middle passage
when a blue spot began to spread
up from the bile I couldn’t swallow,
through the back of my mouth,
behind my nose humming and neighing with notes.
It was blue behind my eyes, indigo
soft and unspoken. I felt the pain
ease, a forgetfulness
like a horse I finally let go.
And it sang
while I dismounted.
It sang while I watched it wander.
Ride me, ride me
but let me wander also,
I’m not ready to ride on home.

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